Delhi HC orders inspection of absconding godman Virender Dev Dixit’s ashram
NEW DELHI — The Delhi High Court on Monday ordered the inspection of an ashram founded by self-styled godman Virender Dev Dixit, who has been absconding for several years in multiple rape cases.
The order came in response to a petition by the mother of a woman who resided in the ashram, Adhyatmik Vishwa Vidhyalaya, allegedly under the influence of individuals associated with Dixit.
Expressing concern over the allegations of rape against Dixit, the court directed the state to file a status report in the matter.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) informed the court that two FIRs had been registered against Dixit for alleged rape, and efforts were underway to apprehend him.
The court observed that the ashram had only five girls, including the petitioner’s daughter, and directed the state to conduct an inspection of the ashram in collaboration with the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) and the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP).
The bench headed by Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and also comprising Justice Manoj Jain, ordered a fresh status report to be filed.
During the proceedings, the petitioner’s daughter, who is 18 years old, was produced before the court. It was revealed that she was residing in the ashram voluntarily.
The court listed the case for further hearing on January 24 and asked the petitioner’s daughter not to leave the ashram in the meantime. The state was also directed to present her during the next hearing.
The CBI on November 24 last year, told the court that it is working on locating and arresting Dixit.
Earlier, the court had expressed satisfaction with the attempts and progress made by CBI in the matter.
On perusing the probe agency’s status report earlier, it had observed that the CBI was making “earnest efforts” to comply with the court’s directions.
The status report was filed in a sealed cover, and the court was told that the accused seems to be outside India.
“We will arrest him soon. We have taken help of Interpol,” CBI’s counsel had told.
The court had then also asked the investigating agency to file a fresh status report.
Earlier, the high court had granted the agency permission to freeze the bank accounts of Dixit.
A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma (now elevated to SC) and Justice Sanjeev Narula had expressed satisfaction with the efforts made by the CBI to locate and apprehend Dixit.
Besides the present case, a petition was filed in 2017 by NGO Foundation for Social Empowerment, which alleged that Dixit had illegally confined several minor girls and women at his “spiritual university” and that the girls were not allowed to meet their parents.
Another petition by an aged couple alleges their “highly educated daughter” was misled into living there and was harbouring “overvalued ideas”.
Notably, the CBI had identified certain bank accounts linked to the fugitive.
The court had commended the CBI’s ongoing efforts and allowed them to proceed with freezing the bank accounts in accordance with the law. It granted the CBI an additional six weeks to continue their actions and listed the matter for next hearing in November.
On May 31, the court had directed the CBI to take steps to apprehend Dixit. It was brought to the court’s attention that Dixit or his followers were uploading videos on various platforms, including YouTube and social media, despite him being a fugitive.
The high court had instructed the CBI to locate Dixit and investigate accusations of illegal confinement, with reports indicating that girls and women were being kept in inhumane conditions behind metal doors within a fortress-like ashram surrounded by barbed wire.
In 2022, the court had asked the ashram to justify why it should not be taken over by the Delhi government and expressed doubts about whether the inmates were living there voluntarily.
It had said that no institution had the right to violate the fundamental rights of its inhabitants