Chennai: The Madras High Court has appointed Justice PR Raman, a former judge of the Kerala High Court, as the inquiry officer to go into the sexual and other allegations against Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Puducherry.
Justice KK Sasidharan, who passed interim orders on a petition filed by Managing Trustee of the Ashram Manoj Das Gupta, challenging the order initiating an inquiry by the Puducherry government.
Some of the inmates of the Sri Arabindo Ashram Trust had complained against certain others alleging various acts, which were detrimental to their peaceful living in the Ashram.
One Vishnu Lalit, aggrieved by the publication of a book titled `The Lives of Sri Aurobido` made an attempt to conduct dharna in front of the Ashram and he was supported by a local MLA Ashok Anand.
Deputy Collector (Revenue) pursuant to the complaint made by the MLA and others, summoned Gupta for inquiry and further put up a notice in the Ashram seeking the inmates to disclose any information that they would like to state in the matter.
Gupta moved the Madras High Court against this.
The High Court had already granted an interim stay on the inquiry initiated by Puducherry government on October 5 last year, which was periodically extended.
When the matter came up for hearing on July 31, 2013, the counsel for the Ashram submitted that though they were not against the inquiry their objection was only with regard to the Collector conducting the probe into the matter "with a pre-determined mind".
When the matter came up again, both the government and the Ashram agreed for appointing Justice Raman as inquiry officer into the matter.
Justice Raman would enquire into allegations of sexual harassment of women and children in the Ashram, violation of human rights and denial of fundamental rights to the inmates, misappropriation of Ashram funds, illegal sale and lease of Ashram properties by the trustees, the judge said.
Puducherry Collector was directed to hand over all the complaints received by him against the Ashram to the enquiry officer forthwith.
The matter is posted for further hearing on November 4.