SC prod to Centre on 17 ashrams with ‘fake babas’
The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to examine a plea for taking action against 17 ashrams being run by “fake babas” who are allegedly sexually exploiting women devotees and forcibly keeping them in dingy rooms in violation of the lockdown guidelines.
“Look into this what can be done. This gives a bad name to everyone,” Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, heading the bench, told solicitor-general Tushar Mehta while dealing with a plea filed by Dumpala Ramreddy, who hails from Hyderabad. The petitioner has urged the apex court to direct the authorities to rescue his US-returned daughter and 169 other young women being illegally confined and sexually exploited at the Adhyatmika Vidyalaya (Spiritual School) at Rohini in Delhi.
The bench adjourned the matter for two weeks to enable the Centre to present its views on the issue.
In his petition filed through advocate Sravan Kumar, Ramreddy, 67, has alleged that there are at least 16 other ashrams in different parts of the country run by “fake godmen” who have confined a large number of women/girls and are allegedly exploiting them.
“That considering the urgent prevailing situation due to spreading of coronavirus in the country particularly in places where social distance is not maintained such as the illegal ashram, i.e., Adhyatmika Vidyalaya at Rohini in Delhi and 16 other bogus ashrams set up by bogus babas, petitioner prays for the intervention of this Hon’ble Court for the rescue of the women/persons in the ashrams,” it said.
The petitioner said that since the apex court on March 23 directed all prisoners facing sentences or charges for punishment which are less than seven years should be released on interim bail to prevent the pandemic from spreading in prisons, the same directive should be passed in the case of these ashrams.
The CBI had in 2018, on the directions of Delhi High Court, conducted raids to arrest “baba” Veerendar Dev Dixit, who ran the ashram in Rohini after allegations of various irregularities started emerging. Dixit is absconding since 2017.