HC notice to Delhi ashram for confining minor girls in ‘animal-like’ conditions

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday expressed serious concern over the condition of an ashram, a spiritual place in north Delhi’s Rohini run by an absconding self-styled godman who was allegedly holding a number of girls captive in “animal-like” conditions.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla issued a show-cause notice to the institution while dealing with the matter.

The incident came to light first followed by a raid by a high-court appointed committee at the ‘Adhyatmik Vishwa Vidyalaya’ run by Baba Virender Dev Dixit in the city.

Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal was also asked to accompany the police during the inspection.

The committee had told the court that the girls and women were kept in the ashram in “unhygienic and animal-like conditions with no privacy even for bathing” and rescued around 40 women from there.

In 2018, the Delhi High Court had barred the ashram Adhyatmik Vishwa Vidyalaya from representing itself as “Vishwa Vidyalaya” and directed the CBI to follow all possible steps to trace the self-styled godman.

On December 20, 2017, the Delhi High Court directed the CBI to investigate the alleged illegal confinement of girls and women in the ashram who had been kept in inhuman conditions behind metal doors in a “fortress” surrounded by barbed wire.

The Central Bureau of Investigation had registered three cases against Dixit for allegedly keeping several women and minor girls hostage at his ashram.

During the course of the hearing on Tuesday, the bench was in the view that the place should be taken care of by the Health Department of Delhi government.

“In broad daylight in a city like Delhi, you’re going on with these scandals. This won’t go on for another day. We are aghast to read this,” the bench remarked.

After a detailed hearing, the matter was posted for April 21 clubbed with the plea filed by NGO Foundation for Social Empowerment.

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