Leaving parents, family not spiritual knowledge: HC

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New Delhi : The Delhi High Court on Friday slammed Rohini-based Adhyatmik Vidyalaya for allegedly not allowing parents of the female inmates lodged on the premises to meet them and said that abandoning parents is not spiritual knowledge.

The court also asked the ashram management to educate the girls on sanitation and personal hygiene after Delhi Commission for Women Chair Swati Maliwal urged for directions to provide sanitary napkins to girls housed in the ashram.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar said: "What is spiritual awakening?" Leaving parents and family is not spiritual knowledge, it added.

"Teach the women at the Vidyalaya to respect humankind, including parents," the court advised its counsel and said that the bench had met the inmates and their parents in the chamber who have apprised the court about the situation on the campus.

The bench called a couple in front of the dais and asked the Vidyalaya's counsel to look at their pathetic condition as they were not allowed to talk with their daughter. The couple broke down.

"Today is Guru Purnima. The first teacher of every child is parents. Show them respect," the court remarked.

A court-appointed committee and the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Science (IHBAS) have submitted a report after inspection of the premises and found that the conditions there have changed significantly, though there are no security measures in place in case of an emergency.

The court directed the institute to take this into account and work to improve the situation.

The court was hearing a plea filed against the Adhyatmik Vidyalaya by NGO Foundation for Social Empowerment

The ashram counsel told the court that NGO members faced charges of trespassing into the institute.

The court asked the two counsels to settle such issues amicably and directed the mediation centre to conduct daily hearings to settle such complaints.

The court listed the matter for August 10.

The Central Bureau of Investigation informed the court that it is doing its best to trace ashram founder and self-styled godman Virendra Dev Dixit.

The CBI has registered three cases against Dixit for allegedly keeping several women and minor girls hostage at the ashram.

Earlier, the High Court had transferred the case to the CBI and asked it to forthwith set up a Special Investigation Team to probe the charges that girls and women were lured to the ashram on the pretext of spiritual guidance but raped.

On the High Court's directions in December 2017, a committee inspected the institute and submitted that the inmates were kept in "unhygienic and animal-like conditions with no privacy even for bathing".