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The Times Of India: Supreme Court orders litigant sisters out of Aurobindo Ashram by July 31


,TNN | May 5, 2014, 02.57 AM IST

PUDUCHERRY: The Supreme Court has directed Jayashreee Prasad and her four sisters, residents of Sri Aurobindo Ashram who repeatedly levelled serious charges against representatives of the commune that the Madras high court found were false and motivated, to vacate the ashram by July 31.

Disposing a special leave petition filed by the sisters against a Madras high court order asking them to vacate the ashram, a bench of Justice Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopdhaya and Justice Ranjan Gogoi had on April 29 directed the sisters to follow the rules and regulations of the ashram for as long as they remain there. 

The bench said it would be open to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust to initiate contempt proceedings against the sisters if they fail to comply with the order. 

The Madras high court in June 2010 had directed the sisters to vacate the ashram and suggested that they stay in a women’s hostel. The sisters refused to follow the high court’s orders following which the ashram’s administrators filed a contempt case against them. 

The protracted battle between Jayashreee and her sisters, Arunashri, Rajyashree, Nivedita and Hemlata and the ashram management began when a retired district judge appointed by the Madras high court in 2002 to probe misconduct charges against Hemlata declared her guilty and recommended that the ashram initiate disciplinary action against her. 

The Madras High Court in August, 2012 directed the sisters who are originally from Bihar to leave the ashram by September 2, 2012. The Madras High Court passed the order on a petition filed by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust against the order of the Puducherry principal district munsif which had directed the trust not to deny the ashram’s facilities to the five sisters till the suit remained pending. 

Pulling up the district munsif for exceeding its jurisdiction by passing an order allowing the siblings to stay in the ashram despite Madras High Court ordering them to move out of the ashram in 2010, high court judge Justice S Manikumar directed the sisters to make their own arrangements for accommodation outside the ashram. 

In his report in 2002, the retired judge had noted that the allegations against Hemlata were serious and said it would set a bad precedent if no action were to be taken against her. 

Hemlata challenged the report of the retired judge and filed a suit to restrain the ashram from taking action against her. In response, the ashram trust charged the sisters with making false allegations of sexual harassment against representatives of the ashram and its members. The trust pointed out that the National Commission for Women and National Human Rights Commission had found their complaints to be false and motivated. 

One of the siblings had also filed a complaint of criminal defamation against trustees of the ashram and other inmates. A judicial magistrate in Puducherry dismissed the complaint and noted that Hemlata lied under oath. 

The sisters and some of their associates in 2012 again complained to the Puducherry collector against the ashram and its members, suppressing the facts that the courts and various commissions had already found that the complaints to be false.

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