Accentuating the chances of a judicial probe into allegations of sexual harassment of women and children at the Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry, the Centre has informed the Supreme Court that it favoured an independent inquiry into the affairs of the ashram. The Ministry of Home Affairs, in its affidavit, has stated that the accusations of sexual harassment, mismanagement and irregularities at the ashram were serious enough to initiate an inquiry.
“In view of the serious allegations made about sexual harassment of women and children in the ashram, misappropriation of funds, illegal sale and lease of ashram properties for personal gain by the managing trustee and the trustees of Shri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, through a number of complaints by inmates and local MLA, it is necessary to get a fair inquiry conducted by an independent authority,” stated the affidavit.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India H L Dattu will take up the government’s response on Friday as it would hear a petition by Dr Gayatri Satapathy and others, who have sought a judicial probe into the affairs of the ashram.
The government’s reply has come days after three women inmates of the ashram committed suicide by jumping into the sea following their eviction from the ashram. The suicide bid was carried out by five sisters and their parents as they attempted to wade into the sea on December 18. While the mother and two daughters died, the rest survived.
The sisters had also alleged harassment and corruption at the ashram. Political parties in Puducherry had also organised protests against the suicides.