31 Aug 2013

Former HC judge to probe irregularities at Aurobindo Ashram ― The Hindu

THE HINDU, Chennai, Saturday, August 31, 2013
Chennai:  Justice P.R. Raman of Kochi, a former Judge of the Kerala High Court, will enquire into allegations of sexual harassment of women and children in Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry.

An order to this effect was passed by Justice K.K. Sasidharan of the Madras High Court on a writ petition by the ashram trust. The trust was aggrieved by the territorial government’s action in nominating the Puducherry Collector to enquire into the ashram affairs following complaints by some ashram inmates and a local legislator, to flare up the issue.

Mr. Justice Sasidharan directed the Puducherry Chief Secretary to treat the enquiry officer (EO) as a State Guest and provide him all required facilities for conducting an impartial enquiry.

The ashram and others should extend their cooperation to the officer to hold the enquiry in a free atmosphere. The inmates should be given full freedom to express their views and grievances.

The EO would also enquire whether there was alleged violation of human rights and denial of fundamental rights to the inmates, whether there was misappropriation of ashram funds and whether there was truth in the allegation of illegal sale and lease of ashram property by the trustees.

Counsel submitted that the ashram was not against any enquiry with regard to the complaints. Its objection was only against the Collector conducting the enquiry with a pre-determined mind.

Mr. Justice Sasidharan said there was no dispute that the ashram was an institution of international repute. The issues raised by some ashram members, MLA Ashok Anand, and others should not result in lowering the ashram’s image. The Ashram’s sanctity should be preserved at any cost.  Since the petitioner and the authorities had agreed on the enquiry by Mr. Justice Raman, he was of the view that the former Judge should be appointed as EO.

Sathya Sri Priya Easwaran, an advocate of Kochi, suggested by the EO, has been appointed to record the statements of women inmates of the ashram.

The High Court restrained the parties to the writ petition from raising the issues now referred to the EO in any other forum or in any other manner pending enquiry proceedings. The EO should conclude the enquiry as expeditiously as possible and submit a report to the High Court.

The matter has been posted for November 4.


  1. It is appropriate the newsitem in The Hindu has been scanned and shown, as last time, The Hindu possibly provided for a vanishing trick of their newsitem.

    Just in case readers need further confirmation of the latest development, I enclose the version of Indian Express,(dt 31.8.13) downloaded from their site;

    9/1/13 Panel to probe charges against Pondy ashram
    newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/Panel-to-probe-charges-against-Pondy-ashram/2013/08/31/article1760566.ece?service=print 1/1
    Panel to probe charges against Pondy ashram
    Author: T S Sekaran | ENS
    Published Date: Aug 31, 2013 10:06 AM
    Last Updated: Aug 31, 2013 10:06 AM
    The Madras High Court has appointed Justice P R Raman, a retired judge of the Kerala High Court, to probe
    allegations of funds misappropriation and sexual abuse of inmates in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry.
    The retired judge will investigate a host of charges, including sexual harassment of women and children, violation
    of human rights in the ashram, misappropriation of funds and the illegal sale and lease of ashram properties by
    the trustees.
    Justice K K Sasidharan made the appointment on Friday, while passing interim orders on a writ petition from Sri
    Aurobindo Ashram Trust. The trust was established by the ‘Mother’ (Mirra Alfassa, the spiritual partner of Sri
    Aurobindo), under a trust deed in 1955, with the primary objective of providing an environment conducive for the
    practice of integral yoga as envisaged by Sri Aurobindo.
    The trust challenged the order to initiate an inquiry into allegations made by some inmates of the ashram, local
    Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Ashok Anand, ashram rival Vishnu Lalit and others and the Puducherry
    government’s consequential notice dated
    October 1, 2012, inviting interested Ashramites and others to approach the Deputy Collector (Revenue) Puducherry
    in connection with the inquiry.
    The Judge also appointed advocate Sathya Sri Priya Easwaran of Elamkulam in Kochi as inquiry assistant for
    recording statements of women inmates.
    The trust has been ordered to pay Rs 1.50 lakh to the inquiry officer and Rs 75,000 to his assistant per month as
    honorarium from September 1, and meeting their travel and boarding expenses till the conclusion of inquiry.
    Though no time limit was fixed, the Judge said that the inquiry should be completed as soon as possible and the
    report submitted before the court. The matter was then posted for further hearing to November 4, along with
    another writ petition.
    Copyright © 2012 The New Indian Express. All rights reserved.

  2. Arindam Das (in SAICE forum): The Ashram's plea has been heard in the court. Instead of allowing the Collector to proceed with his probe, the court has ordered a judicial probe.

    Needless to say, the theatrics and pyrotechnics from the likes of Jayant, Sraddhalu, Raman and the 'helpless victims' have failed to yield any dividend, at least for now.

    Sridharan: Did the Ashram Trust plead for an enquiry of the allegations levelled at them by a retired High Court judge??? It would have been too glad to have no enquiry at all or delay indefinitely the case against the Collector as it was doing. It was because of the explosive Puducherry Assembly proceedings that the matter has been expedited and the Ashram had no other choice but to accept a third party for the enquiry. In fact, a retired Judge will be more effective than the Collector to take the Ashram Trust to task if he finds anything hanky panky with it. Has the loud mouth Arindam Das ever thought of the possibility of the retired judge finding the accusations to be true and taking the necessary action to set things right? This might again lead to an administrator or at least a change of the existing system.

  3. It is bordering on the ridiculous for the claim in the SAICE forum.

    As I have understood, the Ashram Trust never wanted any enquiry; faced with the threat of Govt looking into the affairs of Trust, they rushed to the High Court to get a stay; prolonged the stay to ward off the threat to their domain. Now when the Court has ordered an enquiry, there is claim that it is a victory against the Collector and some jayant and company. I am not too sure whether it is not a case of the SAICE writer, trying to project the judicial enquiry as a victory- but for whom?
    I am not a camp follower of any raman or sraddhalu or others but only an ardent devotee of Sri Aurobindo.Many like me DO NOT WANT THE ASHRAM TRUST TO BE ASHRAM MISTRUST. Hence the enquiry ordered by the High Court has come not a day too soon.
    The claim in SAICE (as referred in this site)- appears to fit the proverbial truth that for jaundiced eyes everything will appear yellow.

    Let better sense prevail on all so that the sanctity of the institution set up by The Mother to give a shape to the Ideals of Sri Aurobindo is not undermined, and The Mother and Sri Aurobindo are not denigrated.If the alleged misdeeds are a fact, that would be grave injustice to the disciples and devotees of the Masters and insincerity to the Masters and the misuse of the privelege of belonging to Sri Aurobindo.