The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought before it the presence of a woman living in an ashram founded by absconding self-styled spiritual preacher Virender Dev Dixit in the national capital after her aged parents alleged their “highly educated” daughter was being misled and suffering from “overvalued ideas”.
The parents urged the court to facilitate an interaction with their daughter who has been living in Adhyatmik Vishwa Vidhyalaya, Rohini without their consent.
A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan said the daughter was an adult who cannot be forced to meet her parents and asked her to appear for an interaction with the court.
“Daughter is an adult. We can’t force her. She has a mind of her own,” the bench, also comprising Justice Mini Pushkarna, said.
The counsel for the petitioners sought directions from the court to hold a psychological analysis of their daughter in terms of a report given by a committee headed by the Principal District & Sessions Judge of Rohini with respect to the status of the residents of the ashram.
Amicus Curiae (friend of court) appointed in the matter stated that petitioners’ daughter was an adult who has already made a statement before the high court that she was willingly residing in the ashram and did not wish to meet her parents.
The amicus added whatever may be the daughter’s belief system, she could not be subjected to a psychological analysis against her will when she appeared to be of sound mind.
The counsel for the daughter also said she was a 38-year-old woman who did not want to meet the petitioners and that she has already been examined by psychologists in 2018.
The amicus curiae suggested that the court may interact with the daughter before passing any further orders.
“Accordingly, respondent no. 4 (daughter) is directed to be present in court. List in January,” the court ordered.
The petitioners had moved the high court in 2020 with a petition for the “release” of their daughter from the “custody” of the ashram.
In their application filed through lawyer Sravan Kumar, the petitioners said that the ashram was “run by an accused of rape and other serious crimes”, who was absconding, and the daughter required treatment by expert doctors for “overvalued ideas” and acute backache.
“Petitioners have never consented for the admission of the Respondent No.4 in the illegal Ashram established by Respondent No.5 (Dixit). That the Petitioners believe that the Respondent No.5 and inmates of Respondent No.6 (ashram) are influencing/misleading the Respondent No.4. Despite the Respondent No.4 being highly educated and having higher studies in USA, she has been believing in unrealistic thoughts taught by the Respondent No. 5 in Respondent No.6,” the plea said.
Besides the petitioner, NGO Foundation for Social Empowerment, represented by lawyer Sravan Kumar, had also filed a plea in 2017 alleging that several children and women were being illegally confined at Dixit’s “spiritual university” and were not allowed to meet their parents.
The high court had earlier asked the CBI to trace Dixit and directed the agency to probe the alleged illegal confinement of girls and women in the ashram.
The CBI had then assured the high court that all efforts were being made to ascertain the whereabouts of Dixit and raids were carried out at his farm houses and ashrams.
On September 12, the court had said that CBI was free to freeze the bank accounts Dixit.