Home Cities Committee supervised by Kiran Bedi to oversee scandal-hit Rohini Ashram

Committee supervised by Kiran Bedi to oversee scandal-hit Rohini Ashram

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Former Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi will supervise a six-member panel to oversee the operations of the Rohini Ashram and ensure no woman or child there is subject to any treatment that violates their fundamental or legal rights, the Delhi high court said on Tuesday.

A bench of acting chief justice Vipin Sanghi and justice Navin Chawla observed that women and children are a vulnerable class and vigilance is needed to check the institute’s functioning.

“The committee shall function to see and ensure that no woman inmate or child, if any, found in the respondent institution is subjected to any such treatment which may tantamount to breach of her fundamental rights or other legal rights,” the bench said.

The six-member panel will be led by the district judge with jurisdiction of the area, or their nominee who holds the rank of additional district judge (ADJ). It will also comprise, said the high court, the district magistrate concerned, the deputy commissioner of police (women cell) with jurisdiction in the area; the secretary of the District Legal Services Authority; a nominee of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) and the district officer of state government’s women and child department.

The order comes while hearing a plea by a couple who said they were not allowed to meet their daughter, an inmate of the Ashram, in violation of a court’s earlier orders. During a previous hearing, the high court asked the state to take instructions on whether they can take over the management of the ashram, where, it observed, that women are staying in “animal-like conditions.”

The court said it spoke to Bedi, a former IPS officer, to oversee the functioning of the institute, observing that she has “done a lot of work for society.”

DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal, however, objected to Bedi’s appointment, arguing that she had joined a political party and contested elections, alluding to the 2015 Delhi assembly polls, when Bedi was the Bharatiya Janata Party’s chief ministerial candidate.

To this, the bench said, “How does that matter? We have spoken to her, we have reposed faith on her…We have considered, please let us leave politics for some time at least…”

It declined Maliwal’s request to make her the administrator and directed the state government to extend all help to Bedi.

During the proceedings on Tuesday, Santosh Kumar Tripathi, the state government’s standing counsel, told the court that there was no mechanism available with the government to run a private institution and urged the court to form a committee to look after the affairs of the ashram in question.

DCW chief Swati Maliwal said the present case is the “tip of the iceberg” and there were many instances of malpractices being committed by spiritual leaders.

She asked the court to set up a similar committee for the entire city and placed before it certain suggestions to ensure that the fundamental and legal rights of women and children living in such institutions are not violated.

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