The Madras High Court has upheld a single judge’s interim order appointing Justice P.R. Raman, a former judge of the Kerala High Court, to enquire into allegations of sexual harassment of women and children in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry.
In its judgment on an appeal, the First Bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice M. Sathyanarayanan, said a perusal of the interim order of August 13 would show that the interest of all the parties had been taken into consideration by the single judge (Justice K.K.Sasidharan), who passed a detailed order by issuing certain directions.
Originally, the writ petition was filed by Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust challenging an order initiating enquiry into the charges made by some of the ashramites and the consequential notice of October 1 last year inviting interested members of the ashram and others to approach the Deputy Collector (Revenue) in connection with the enquiry.
The judge took note of the fact that the ashram was not against holding an enquiry regarding the complaints by inmates and the local legislator, and the primary objection was only against the Collector holding the enquiry into the matter with a predetermined mind. The judge suggested two names, out of which the parties had agreed for appointing Justice P.R.Raman, a former judge of the Kerala High Court.
The Bench said the primary objection raised by three persons, the appellants, seemed to be that an Administrator should be appointed by dissolving the trust board to ensure that there would be a free and fair enquiry. The single judge had taken note of the submission and found that a scheme notice was pending before the District Court, Puducherry, and therefore rightly rejected the submission.
The judge had also passed certain directions. The prayer sought for by the appellants for taking over the administration by an Administrator, for the present, did not arise for consideration. There was no merit in the writ appeal, the Bench said and dismissed the appeal.