The Delhi High Court today said if Virender Dev Dixit, who allegedly kept girls and women confined at an ashram founded by him in the national capital, has done nothing wrong, then why was he running away from the CBI which through Interpol has issued a blue corner notice to locate him.
The query was addressed to the ashram's lawyer by a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar that asked, "Why does your leader not appear before CBI? He is absconding. Your leader is running, that too at an international level. What kind of example is he setting? Ask him to appear before CBI. If you have nothing to hide, make your activities transparent."
The observations by the bench came after the ashram's lawyer alleged that Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chairperson Swati Maliwal was spreading fake propaganda about their institution.
The lawyer also said that their spirituality prohibits them from registering their group with any statutory body, to which the court said,"Your spirituality is also bound by the law. If it is not in harmony with the law prescribed, then you will have to face the consequences."
The lawyer's submission came in response to the suggestion by the bench to get in order the affairs of the ashram, Adhyatmik Vidyalaya, located at Rohini in north west Delhi by getting it registered and by regulating its bank accounts.
"Why are you scared of the law if you are doing everything right," the court asked the ashram's lawyer.
The CBI, in its status report, told the court that Dixit has fled to Nepal along with the wife of one of his followers and the woman's husband has said that he has no knowledge about her whereabouts.
The agency also told the court it has asked Interpol to issue a blue corner notice to locate Dixit.
It also told the court that the women inmates need prior permission of Dixit before even getting a pen to write to their family or dear ones.
The bench asked the CBI to continue with its efforts and listed the matter for further hearing on July 27.
The court also directed the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IBHAS) to nominate some experts to visit the ashram and inspect the conditions there to ascertain the physical and mental health of its inmates.
The experts were directed to submit their report before the next date of hearing.
The bench also directed the committee appointed by it to carry out further inspections of the ashram in Rohini and other institutions being run by Dixit in the national capital.
The bench was hearing a PIL in which an NGO alleged that girls and women were illegally confined at the "spiritual university" in Rohini.
The court had appointed a three-member panel, comprising Maliwal and advocates Nandita Rao and Ajay Verma, to inspect the Rohini ashram and its other branches in Delhi.
The committee had claimed the institute was making the inmates write letters and complaints making similar allegations of sexual assaults against their family members.
These letters were being used to pressure the family members from initiating any action against the ashram or Dixit, it had said and added that the inmates were being kept in "animal-like" conditions behind metal doors in a "fortress-like" building surrounded by a barbed wire fence.
The court had ordered the CBI to probe the matter by setting up a special investigation team (SIT) to take charge of all records and documents pertaining to the case.
At the first hearing of the matter, the court had said the situation at the Rohini ashram was "similar" to the one run in Sirsa, Haryana, without making any direct reference to Gurmeet Ram Rahim or the Dera Sacha Sauda sect led by him.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)