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S.A. Ashram’s response to Imran Khan of TEHELKA

SRI AUROBINDO ASHRAM TRUST

Pondicherry – 605002, India (: +91-413-2233628)

18.07.2013

To:

Mr. Imran Khan,

Senior Correspondent,

Tehelka Magazine,

(#91- 96636-12486)

Dear Mr. Imran Khan,

Thank you for your email dated 13th July, 2013. My name is Matriprasad and I am an inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. As part of my work in the Ashram, I assist the trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram in their administrative functions. The managing trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram has asked me to send the following answer to your queries.

If the answers that we provide to your queries prove to be rather detailed, it is mainly because we would like to disclose all the facts. Truth is often complex and layered with various levels of interlaced sub-plots. Hence we would prefer to put before you all the facts and not just tidbits of stray information and our own personal opinions.

The bulk of our reply would be formed by copies of documents such as Orders by Courts, various Commissions or other authorities. We would prefer that facts and documents speak for themselves so that you may be free to draw your own conclusions, and not depend and rely on what could be considered as merely our own self-serving opinions or perceptions. As the documents are necessarily very voluminous we would provide an introduction to the issue involved as regards each document, as well as provide some inputs that could help you navigate through the huge amount of material being attached. However the documents themselves are being sent to you in their unabridged form so that you may arrive at your independent conclusion, unhindered by any third person’s opinions.

INTRODUCTION
Much of all this began in the year 2008. A book had been published by Columbia University Press, USA, and had been authored by one American national named Peter Heehs who has been residing in the Ashram since 1971, i.e. even when The Mother – the settlor of the Trust – was directly running the Ashram.

According to some representations received by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the author had denigrated Sri Aurobindo in his book. While at the same time, Sri Aurobindo Ashram had also received a large number of representations from other inmates and followers of Sri Aurobindo, including some of whom are scholars and persons of eminence, to the effect that they had found nothing disturbing about the book, or had even appreciated it.

Those who did not like the book demanded that the Ashram should seek a ban upon the book and should take severe action against the author, including sending him out of the Ashram and the country. Sri Aurobindo Ashram refused to be browbeaten into taking such fundamentalist postures and had issued a public statement which stated inter alia:

“The considered view of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust is that it does not project itself in the role of dictating to readers and followers of Sri Aurobindo, as to what they should read and what they should not read. Each person is at complete liberty to decide for himself whether he finds any book to be meaningful and useful, or whether he does not find it to be so, and Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust respects and has full faith in the intellectual and spiritual discernment of the readers. No one should or needs to force his personal opinions on any other reader in general, and more particularly on the followers of Sri Aurobindo.”

Please find enclosed as Annexure-Introduction A a copy of the official position of the Ashram.

Not succeeding in intimidating the Ashram into adopting their fundamentalist attitude, some of these persons filed a suit against the Ashram with the prayer that the present trustees be removed since they had failed to take steps to ban the book and expel the author, and that the Court should frame a scheme for administering the Ashram. This suit has not yet been adjudicated.

Not waiting for the result of the adjudication in the suit which they themselves had filed, the same litigants in May 2012 persuaded some Members of Parliament to write a letter to the Ashram. The letter, which is self-explanatory, is attached as Annexure-Introduction B.

The Ashram gave a suitable reply to the Members of Parliament, which is attached as Annexure-Introduction C. The Ashram has not heard from any Member of Parliament thereafter, and no further queries have been raised by them.

However a news item that was published in Jansatta (Annexure-Introduction D – photocopy of original in Hindi and English translation) reported how irresponsibly the Members of Parliament mechanically affix their signatures on communications which they have not read, and how they do not bother to understand the underlying issues involved before affixing their signatures on such communications.

In this context, we also place before you the published views of some eminent persons as regards this issue, namely:

  • Dr. Pratap Bhanu Mehta Annexure-Introduction E
  • Shri Ramachandra Guha Annexure-Introduction F
  • Shri T N Chaturvedi Annexure-Introduction G
  • Shri Rambahadur Rai Annexure-Introduction H

(Articles in Hindi are attached with their English translation.)

Unable to make any further headway, and with the intention to coerce the Ashram to succumb to their regressive demands, the litigants organized two dharnas in front of the office of the Ashram by bringing people from outside the state of Pondicherry. They violated their own undertaking given to the police that the dharna would be a peaceful one when they tried to manhandle one of the office bearers of the Ashram who was over 80 years of age, and shouted slogans and disturbed the visitors to the Ashram. Thereafter, when they wanted to conduct another dharna for one week from 12th August 2012 onwards, the police, based on the previous conduct of the applicants, refused to give them the permission. Kindly find enclosed as Annexure-Introduction I a copy of the first application that was made to the police for conduct of the dharna as that application lists out the alleged grievances of the persons who are now complaining against the Ashram.

It is after this permission to conduct a 3rd dharna was refused by the Police that the complainants, accompanied by a local MLA, approached the Collector of Pondicherry.

Now with this introduction, we shall deal with the questions raised by you seriatim.

QUERY 1

“…with regard to the inquiry ordered by the government of Pondicherry. What is the position of the ashram management inside and outside the judicial system?”

A website called “A Critique of the Book ‘The Lives of Sri Aurobindo’ by Peter Heehs” which is managed by those who are campaigning against the book posted an announcement on 20th August 2012 that an MLA named Ashok Anand had complained to the Collector of Pondicherry about Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The website had uploaded the unabridged text of the complaint which had been submitted to the Collector by the MLA Ashok Anand. Please find enclosed as Annexure-Query1-A the printout of the text of the complaint to the Collector, as it appeared on that website. Kindly note that this complaint does not list even a single specific instance of the allegations and the sole enclosure consists of the letter dated 22nd May 2012 by the Members of Parliament, which has been referred to supra as Annexure-Introduction B.

Thereafter the Deputy Collector of Pondicherry issued summons to Sri Aurobindo Ashram to attend a hearing on 07.09.2012. A copy of the summons is attached as Annexure-Query1-B. As can be observed, even the summons issued by the Deputy Collector does not mention any particular instance which would be illustrative of the allegations leveled against the Ashram, and only deals with vague generalities.

While it was so, and even though not a single identifiable act of dereliction of responsibility by the office bearers of the Ashram was mentioned in the notice, in order not to offend or confront any public authority, the representatives of the Ashram met the Deputy Collector on the date of the hearing and informed him about the anomaly of such a non-specific notice to which the Ashram had been asked to respond. Further the representatives answered all the queries raised by the Deputy Collector, and also informed him that the issues raised by him were all subject matter of several litigations initiated by different persons at different points of time. Many of the complaints had either been already dismissed or were still pending with the courts, and as such it was not fair for any complainant to seek relief from the Collector when they had failed to get the same from the court. As a follow-up the Ashram provided to the Deputy Collector notes, copies of the orders by the courts, or commissions, or various other bodies, to the effect that those complaints about which the Deputy Collector had sought to enquire were either already adjudicated by competent authorities, or were concerning matters of pending litigation and hence should be beyond the scope of enquiry by any other authority. Such submissions were about 500 pages or so.

It is pertinent to note that from the Notice dated 05.09.2012 sent by the Deputy Collector, it can be observed that he is processing the complaint under “PGR Cell” (Public Grievance Redressal Cell) which, as is well-known, is the mechanism by which the Collector deals with grievances that the public has as regards the functioning of the Departments under the Collector’s own control and supervision. In other words, the PGR Cell is in no way an instrument by which he can enquire into the functioning of some other body.

Taking into consideration the exposure of Public Charitable Trusts to actions by various dubious interests, the law (as per Section 92 of the Civil Procedure Code) has provided for an in-built safeguard as far as Public Charitable Trusts are concerned: any beneficiary of any Public Charitable Trust may approach the Civil Court and institute a suit, but only after obtaining the leave of the Court and having proved his bonafides, as otherwise, any Public Charitable Trust would be vulnerable to harassive litigation promoted by vested interests.

To sum it up, under the circumstances, the Collector had no jurisdiction whatsoever as regards the complaints made to him.

Even after the Ashram had provided the voluminous documents, the Deputy Collector instructed the Ashram to affix on the notice board of the Ashram a notice drafted by him to the effect that he was enquiring into any grievance that anyone may have against the Ashram, and the complaining party may approach the Deputy Collector with their grievances!

The Ashram informed the Deputy Collector that even if one chooses to enquire into some complaint already received, the enquiry can under no circumstances be enlarged further to cover any complaint that he may receive.

Disregarding the legitimate objections raised by the Ashram, the agent of the Collector trespassed into the Ashram and forcefully affixed the notice in various places.

At this point the Ashram was left with no other option but to protect itself by seeking the intervention of the Court.

The Ashram filed a Writ Petition numbered as W.P. No. 27099 of 2012 in the High Court of Madras. Please find enclosed as Annexure-Query1-C the text of the said petition wherein the Ashram raised several grounds as regards the jurisdiction and the competence of the Collector to hold such an enquiry, and the malafide manner in which it was sought to be pursued. The High Court ordered a stay on the proceedings initiated by the Collector.

Even as these proceedings in the High Court were in progress, and when Mr. Tamilvanan the Government advocate was present in the Court, another advocate from Pondicherry named Cyril Mathias Vincent sought to represent that there has been a change of advocate and that he has been instructed to appear for the Collector. The advocate of the Ashram pointed out that in practically all the cases initiated by various persons against the Ashram in Pondicherry, the same Cyril Mathias Vincent continues to be their counsel, including for those who have now complained to the Collector. It would be a gross miscarriage of justice if the complainants’ counsel were also now appointed as the counsel for the enquiry officer.

The Ashram wrote about this – which at best could be described as an anomaly – to the Government of Pondicherry. Please find enclosed as Annexure-Query1-D the letter dated 05.12.2012 to the effect that the appointment of Mr. Cyril Mathias Vincent as counsel for the Collector would be a gross miscarriage of Justice. The Ashram provided to the Government of Pondicherry the list of matters in which the said advocate was appearing against the Ashram. It is against the principles of natural justice that the counsel for the complainants could also be appointed as the counsel for the enquiry officer.

When the Government of Pondicherry failed to act upon or even respond to this communication, the Ashram was left with no option but to file another Writ in the High Court of Madras, with a prayer to direct the Government of Pondicherry to act upon the Ashram’s letter dated 05.12.2012. Please find enclosed as Annexure-Query1-E the text of the said Writ Petition.

While things stood so, the Collector and the Deputy Collector filed a joint counter affidavit in W.P. No. 27099 of 2012, substantial inputs of which are from the knowledge of Cyril Mathias Vincent. Any possible hope of fairness on part of the Collector and Deputy Collector was now totally out of question as the counter demonstrated that the enquiry officer had vacated his office to espouse the cause of the complaints. The counter running into over 20 pages had re-stated the allegations of the complainants (even those that had already been dismissed by the Courts, and about which the Ashram had already informed the Collector!). This was done without even referring to anything from the voluminous material that the Ashram had already provided to the Deputy Collector. Moreover the Collector had brought in material which did not form part of any complaint or any submission given to him by the complainants. These issues were in fact the pleadings of the counsel Mr. Cyril Mathias Vincent in other cases against the Ashram, in which the said counsel was also independently appearing.

The Ashram was once again left with no other option but to file an application in W.P. No. 27099 of 2012 seeking to implead the Collector and the Deputy Collector in their personal capacity for having acted in a malefide manner. No Counter has yet been filed in this application by either the Collector or the Deputy Collector for justifying their action, which is manifestly illegal.

It is obvious that some persons with vested interests against the Ashram were seeking to get some reliefs from the administration even when they knew that they would not be entitled to get the same in the Court. It was a clear attempt to bypass the established legal process.

This is the position as on date as regards the Enquiry, which is the subject matter of your first query.

QUERY 2

“I hear that an inmates association has been formed. What is the ashram management’s position of the association?”

The answer to this is very simple and can be very short: anyone is free to form an association. That is something permitted by law and the Ashram is in no way concerned with this. Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust has been constituted by a Deed of Trust settled by The Mother in 1955, and the office-bearers of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust are functioning by virtue of that deed and the provisions contained therein, and they shall continue to function as per the terms of that Deed of Trust. Anyone, be it an individual or an association or any organization, is free to put in its suggestions and opinions and they shall be independently examined on merits. However, the trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust are duty-bound to function as per the provisions of Trust Deed of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust alone.

QUERY 3

“If there are allegations of sexual harassment and other kinds of abuses within the ashram – how does the management deal with it?”

Any complaint by whosoever, and whenever, and of any kind, when received, is examined taking into consideration its intrinsic merits and by adopting the most suitable manner by which truth may emerge.

In order to clearly illustrate this we shall take a few sample cases of the complaints received and the manner of their disposal:

CaseA – Complaints by and against Jayashree Prasad, Arunashree Prasad, Rajyashree Prasad, Nivedita Prasad, and Hemlata Prasad

These are 5 blood sisters who had been admitted in various years as inmates of the Ashram. In the year 2001 Ashram was forced to take disciplinary measures against Hemlata Prasad. She challenged the removal of her name from the list of members of the Ashram and to cut the story short, finally the High Court itself appointed a retired District Judge as enquiry officer. The enquiry officer appointed by the High Court conducted a full-fledged enquiry and found Hemlata Prasad guilty of misconduct. The Report of the enquiry officer appointed by the High Court is attached as Annexure-Query3-A1. Kindly refer to the conclusion of the Enquiry officer in Para 37 on Pages 21-22 of the Report which states inter alia, “I hold that the trustees have got all the powers to expel an inmate for misconduct. I also hold that the allegations against D.W.1 (Hemlata Prasad) is quite serious, and if such misconduct is ignored and no action is taken that would be a bad precedent and it would jeopardise the noble principles on which the Ashram is established and it would definitely encourage indiscipline.” Hemlata Prasad has challenged in the Munsif Court at Pondicherry, the Report of the enquiry officer appointed by the High Court. It may be pertinent to note that Hemlata Prasad was represented in this suit by her advocate Mr. Cyril Mathias Vincent, who is currently the advocate for the Collector and the Deputy Collector as well.

While this challenge was in progress, all the 5 sisters complained to the National Commission for Women that they were facing sexual harassment in the Ashram. A copy of the complaint was never given to the Ashram. However after an elaborate enquiry, the National Commission for Women concluded that the complaints were false and that there was a malicious planning in the lodging of the complaint. The report of the National Commission for Women was never given to us but the conclusions drawn by the National Commission for Women were subject matter of a Press Conference by the Chairperson of the National Commission for Women. Please find attached as Annexure-Query3-A2 the relevant Press Report, wherein the Chairperson of the National Commission for Women had concluded that “There appears to be malicious planning behind the complaints…”

Independently, the 5 sisters complained to the trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust that they were facing sexual harassment at the place of their residence from other inmates of the Ashram. At the same time, many other inmates of the Ashram also complained that the 5 sisters were becoming a nuisance as they were continuously harassing them. In order to find out the veracity of the various complaints and counter-complaints, Sri Aurobindo Ashram appointed Mr. A V Nagarajan, a retired Deputy Secretary to the Govt. of Pondicherry, who is also a member of the Lok Adalat, to go comprehensively into all the complaints and counter-complaints so that the Ashram may take a decision in a fair manner. The 5 sisters after making the complaints refused to participate in the enquiry even after several opportunities were provided to them. Please find enclosed as Annexure-Query3-A3 the report submitted by Mr. A V Nagarajan, a retired Deputy Secretary to the Govt. of Pondicherry, who is also a member of Lok Adalat. The Report clearly established that the complaints by Jayashree Prasad, Arunashree Prasad, Rajyashree Prasad, Nivedita Prasad and Hemlata Prasad were false. On the other hand, the report concluded that the complaints by other inmates, both men and women, were genuine and that they were facing harassment by these 5 sisters.

One of the sisters, Arunashree Prasad, gave a complaint to the police about 6 young men of the Ashram. This was the subject matter of STR No. 7919 of 2004 in the Court of the Judicial Magistrate II at Pondicherry. The magistrate dismissed the complaint on 10.03.2005 and discharged the accused.

Hemlata Prasad had also filed a private complaint for defamation against the trustees and some other members of the Ashram in the Court of the Judicial Magistrate I in Pondicherry, which was numbered as STR No. 864 of 2001. The Judicial Magistrate I at Pondicherry after a full trial dismissed that complaint on 23.11.2004 wherein he noted in Para 19 on Page 13 of the Order that the complainant Hemlata Prasad was not speaking the truth even while she was under oath. He also observed in the same para that even her witness was not speaking the truth. Kindly find enclosed the above Order as Annexure-Query3-A4. It may be pertinent to note that Hemlata Prasad was represented in this complaint by her advocate Mr. Cyril Mathias Vincent, who is currently the advocate for the Collector and the Deputy Collector also.

Acting on the Report submitted by A V Nagarajan, the Ashram, which is duty-bound to protect other inmates also from being victims of false complaints, informed the 5 sisters that they cannot remain as inmates of the Ashram. The five sisters have challenged this decision of the Ashram in OS 409 of 2005 on the file of the Principal District Munsif at Pondicherry. They are represented in this suit by their advocate Mr. Cyril Mathias Vincent, who is currently the advocate for the Collector and the Deputy Collector also.

The 5 sisters also complained about the Ashram and its management and many of its inmates to the National Human Rights Commission. Please find enclosed as Annexure-Query3-A5 the Report of the Enquiry conducted by the National Human Rights Commission. We invite your attention to Paras 70-71 on Pages 25-26, and Paras 73-74 on Page 27, and the conclusions drawn on Para 81 and 82, and the findings in Para 83 on Pages 29-30 of the Report, which are self-explanatory.

Finally in a Revision arising out of an Interim Order in the Suit filed by the 5 sisters, the High Court of Madras directed them to vacate the Ashram and stay outside, and stated that during the pendency of the trial the Ashram would bear the cost of their remaining outside. Even while complaining that they were being subjected to sexual harassment in the Ashram, the 5 sisters refused to avail of this opportunity offered to them and defiantly continued to lodge themselves in Sri Aurobindo Ashram. In fact they have boldly asserted that the order of the High Court is illegal. Please find enclosed this letter dated 28.07.2010 enclosed as Annexure-Query3-A6.

The Ashram had to explain to the Police authorities as to what the reality was, since the five sisters continued to give false complaints to the Police. Please find enclosed as Annexure-Query3-A7 the letter written by Sri Aurobindo Ashram to the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Pondicherry.

In fact this is not the only time when the 5 sisters have given false complaints to the Police against inmates of the Ashram. Please find enclosed as Annexure-Query3-A8 and Annexure-Query3-A9 samples of the false complaints, of which the inmates of the Ashram have been victims. This is just to state that Sri Aurobindo Ashram is duty-bound to protect its inmates from perverse and false complaints by vested interests.

As per the counter filed by the Collector and the Deputy Collector, the five sisters are now complainants before the Collector reiterating the same complaints which have been adjudicated time and again by competent authorities including the courts.

CaseB – Complaints against Bailochan Parida

As a sample of “other kinds of abuses”, in the year 2003, some individuals complained that an inmate of the Ashram named Bailochan Parida, was borrowing money from individuals and inducing them to part with their money by offering a very high rate of interest. Naturally after some time he was unable to service the debt, and finally taking recourse to some excuse or the other was refusing to return even the initial capital.

As is proper, the Ashram asked Bailochan Parida for an explanation as regards his activities. The said Bailochan Parida by giving some flimsy excuses avoided answering the queries raised even when several extensions of time that he had asked for were granted to him. During these exchange of letters, he even tried to browbeat the Ashram into going soft on him by raising imaginary allegations against other persons in the Ashram. Finally he wrote a defiant letter saying that he is not answerable for his acts to the management of the Ashram and that he had not violated any stated rule of the Ashram.

In the fitness of things, Ashram gave him final notice and informed him that it would not be possible for the Ashram to permit him to continue to remain as an inmate of the Ashram. Further the Ashram also clarified to him that it is not necessary to formulate as a formal rule that an inmate of the Ashram should not cheat and indulge himself in dubious financial transactions.

Please find enclosed as Annexure-Query3-B1, the letter dated 03.09.2003 which had been sent by the Ashram to Bailochan Parida and by which the Ashram (after giving him all opportunities to defend himself) found him to be unfit to continue to live as an inmate of the Ashram.

It is interesting to note that the said Bailochan Parida has decided to challenge this action of the Ashram in the local Court and he is represented therein by his Counsel Mr. Cyril Mathias Vincent – the same person who now has been appointed by the Collector as his counsel in the proposed enquiry against the Ashram.

As per the counter filed by the Collector and the Deputy Collector, which has been authenticated by their advocate Mr. Cyril Mathias Vincent Bailochan Parida is now a complainant before the Collector

CaseC – Complaints against Patit Paban Ghosh

One lady-visitor to the Ashram named Divya Dave of Calcutta complained to the trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram in the year 2004 that one inmate of the Ashram named Patit Paban Ghosh had taken advantage of her innocence and had grossly abused the trust that she had reposed in him by taking flippant liberty with her modesty and dignity. The Ashram called for an explanation from the said Patit Paban Ghosh who, instead of giving a proper explanation, launched a counter-blast saying that he was being victimized by the Ashram. Refusing to be intimidated by the delinquent inmate, Sri Aurobindo Ashram appointed an independent Enquiry Officer, a retired District and Sessions Judge, to cause inquiry into the charges framed against Patit Paban Ghosh. Despite being given several opportunities by the Enquiry Officer, Patit Paban Ghosh for reasons best known to him chose not to participate in the Enquiry. In fact he filed a suit in the local Court to injunct the Ashram from even conducting an Enquiry into the complaints against him.

Please find enclosed as Annexure-Query3-C1 the Report dated 9th August 2004 wherein the independent and competent Enquiry Officer has found the delinquent inmate Patit Paban Ghosh of being guilty as charged.

Patit Paban Ghosh had challenged in the Local Court the Enquiry Report and had prayed that the Report be set aside by the Court. His suit numbered as 478 of 2004 on the file of the III Additional District Munsif at Pondicherry was dismissed on 04.07.2011.

It may be relevant to note that in the suit filed by him in the local Court, Patit Paban Ghosh was represented by his Counsel Mr. Cyril Mathias Vincent – the same person who now has been appointed by the Collector as his counsel in the proposed enquiry against the Ashram.

CaseD – Complaints by Debaki Rout against Dr. Dilip Kumar Datta, Physician-in-Charge of the Ashram Medical Services and one of the trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust

An inmate, Debaki Rout, had complained on 08.05.2007 against Dr. Dilip Kumar Datta the Physician-in-Charge of the Ashram Medical Services and one of the trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust. The allegations included inter alia that she had faced sexual harassment by the fact that “he is busy to see female sex through M.R.I. photograph…”! As the complaint also included issues of medical negligence, the Ashram constituted a 4-member Committee, which included 3 medical professionals of eminence and the ex-Chairperson of the Puducherry State Social Welfare Board. Please find her allegations in Annexure AIII of the report dated 20.01.2008 of the Enquiry Committee, which is attached as Annexure-Query3-D. The findings and the recommendations of the enquiry report are available in sections F & G of the report.

CaseE – Complaints by an employee Mamata Satpathy against the Manager of an Ashram Guest House

An employee, Mamata Satpathy, had complained to the trustees of the Ashram about the behavior of the manger of a Guest House under the control of the Ashram. Please find enclosed as Annexure-Query3-E1 & E2 & E3 the assurances that Ashram communicated to the complainant that her complaints were of a serious nature and that the Ashram was eager to know the truth and that it would constitute an enquiry. Since the complainant was apprehensive that the enquiry may not be fair, the Ashram, in order to remove all such apprehensions, requested an absolutely neutral body, namely the Pondicherry State Women’s Commission, to enquire into this complaint. As per the copy of the last communication from the Pondicherry State Women’s Commission (Annexure-Query3-E4) it would appear that the complainant did not respond to the notice issued to her by the Pondicherry State Women’s Commission.

The above-mentioned 5 cases are illustrative of how the management deals with cases of complaints regarding sexual harassment, or any other kind of complaint.

QUERY 4

“Is there a grievance redressal mechanism in the ashram? If Yes, what are its logistics and how does it work?”

As illustrated above in QUERY 3 – whenever the management of the Ashram receives any complaint of any kind, the management’s effort is to immediately find out the veracity of the same so that appropriate corrective measures could be taken.

A grievance may be submitted at several levels of the organisation. The person facing a difficulty may approach the in-charge of the department where he/she is working, or take it up directly with the Committee supervising the work of that particular department, or approach the Ashram’s Advisory Committee which oversees the day to day workings of the Ashram, or even take it up directly with the trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust without any hesitation. It may be noted that the Trust Board, the Ashram’s Advisory Committee, and the various sub-Committees consist of both male and female members.

An individual is free to communicate the nature of his difficulty at any level, or even at multiple levels simultaneously. For example, if a teacher in the Ashram school would like to resolve a particular concern, he/she may approach the Section Head of the class, or the School Committee, or the Ashram’s Advisory Committee, or the trustees. After an issue has been brought to light, it is up to the concerned in-charges/committee members to resolve it, failing which, the trustees, if not already approached, intervene and deal with the matter. Whenever the issues and charges are of a particularly serious nature (such as those detailed in Query 3 above), full-fledged independent enquiries are conducted, and action is taken based on the recommendations of the concerned Enquiry Committee.

Depending on the type, nature and urgency of the complaint, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust institutes a full-fledged, free and fair investigation through:

  • A statutory body (such as the National Human Rights Commission, the National Commission for Women, the State Women’s Commission etc.); OR
  • An independent committee consisting of eminent and neutral person(s) who conduct the enquiry and then report back to the Trustees within a specified time period; OR
  • A departmental enquiry, headed by the Head of Department, tasked to submit a report to the Trustees within a specific period of time; OR
  • Any other methodology that might be appropriate to address the issue being looked into.

The recommendations of the Enquiry is then presented before the Board of Trustees, the appropriate action is initiated, and developments are monitored until the complaint is addressed completely and then closed.

—–

Sir, we hope that the answers to the queries set by you have been answered satisfactorily. Should you have any other query, please do not hesitate to let us know about it.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,

Signed: Matriprasad

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