Delhi High Court appoints Kiran Bedi as supervisor of committee to overlook Ashram

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The Delhi High Court has directed a committee to be formed to supervise the functioning of the Adhyatmik Vishwa Vidyalaya, which has been in the news for allegedly committing human rights violations against its 162 female inmates. 

The suggestion for formulation of a committee was put forth by Delhi Commission of Women  to ensure that the women and children residing in the ashram do not suffer any violation of their fundamental or human right.

Ms. Swati Maliwal, chairman of the Delhi Commission for Women also submitted that the suggestions had been forwarded to the core to be examined. 

Having examined the suggestions made by the Delhi Commission for Women, a division bench of acting Chief Justice Mr. Vipin Sanghi and Mr. Navin Chawla, passed directions for a committee to be formed for the aforesaid purpose of ensuring that there were no fundamental/human right excesses against the female inmates of the ashram.

As per the directions of the court, the committee is to consist of:-

  • The concerned district judge or his statutory nominee holding the rank of Additional District Judge, who shall be the chairperson. 
  • The concerned District Magistrate 
  • A representative of Legal Services Authority 
  • One nominee of the Delhi Commission
  • One officer of the Women and Child Development Cell shall be the convener. The said officer shall also act as the nodal officer, 

The said committee is to be supervised by Ms. Kiren Bedi, who had consented to should er responsibility to do the same.

At this point, Ms. Swati Maliwal, chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women, objected to the appointment of Ms. Bedi, saying that while she was an accomplished veteran, her political allegiances may prevent her from fulfilling her duties. 

Hon'ble Mr. Vipin Sanghi J., however, orally retorted to Ms. Maliwal's concerns stating

"Why can't we keep politics out of it? Her allegiance to one or the other party does not take away from her years of experience. It does not make her any less competent" 

The mandate of the committee was further spelt out by the court as follows:-

  • No woman/child inmate found in the institution shall be subjected to any treatment which may tantamount  to breach of her fundamental or human rights 
  • The Committee shall be provided with access to the institution to inspect the premises and to interact with the inmates daily on a regular basis 
  • The records of the institution with regard to the the inmates shall also be made available to the Committee for inspection
  • The Committee may take the assistance of a number of doctors and psychiatrists to make an assessment of the physical and mental well being of the inmates of the institution
  • At the same the committee may take care that the institution would be free to pursue its religious and spiritual activities, provided that none of them infringe any fundamental right of any inmate or any other person.

The court further directed the ashram to comply with the Women and Children’s Institutions (Licensing) Act, 1956 and rules framed thereunder. 

Last week, the bench was also of the prima facie view that the ashram is functioning in violation of the Women's and Children's Institutions (Licensing) Act, 1956 and the Rules framed thereunder.

Court had then directed GNCTD, to seek instructions from the Department of Women and Child Development of the Delhi government and inform as to whether it would be willing to take over management and running of the Adhyatmik Vishwa Vidyalaya. 

The matter is now listed for 27th May, 2022.