18 Jan 2015

Centre for probe in Ashram case

Deccan Chronicle / Chennai, Saturday, 17 January 2015

SC urged to appoint retd judge for investigation

J. Venkatesan / DC
New Delhi, Jan. 16

The Centre on Friday urged the Supreme Court to order a fair probe by a retired high court judge into the allegations of sexual harassment of women and children in Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry.

The allegations, through a number of complaints by the inmates of the ashram and local MLA, include misappropriation of ashram funds, illegal sale and lease of ashram properties for personal gain by the managing trustees of Aurobindo Ashram Trust.

Attorney General Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre, told a bench of the Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice A.K. Sikrit that the centre had filed its reply to the notice on a writ petition filed by Dr. Gayatri Satapathy and others seeking a probe into various allegations.

The petitioners alleged that the acts of omissions and commissions of the trustees of the ashram had resulted in sexual harassment of women who were associated with the trust either as inmates or otherwise; against minor inmates; medical negligence in providing hospital facilities; and denial of food, shelter, medical support and other basic facilities to the inmates.

They alleged that the Union of India and the Puducherry government, though had an obligation, had failed to intervene in the abysmal state of affairs in the ashram and the serious plight of the inmates. They wanted the Centre to frame an appropriate law to impart transparency and accountability into the administration of the ashram and till such time the law was enacted, to administer the affairs of the ashram.

They also sought a proper enquiry into the various allegations against the trustees.

The bench took on record the Centre’s reply and posted the matter for further hearing on January 27.

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