Monday, 1 August 2005

Five Sisters file Contempt Petition Against Ashram Trustees

After issuing a show cause notice dated 24.01.2005, which contained no charges leveled against us, and enclosing an incomplete report of A.V. Nagarajan, the trustees proceeded to expel us by pasting expulsion notices. We were constrained to file O.S. No.409/2005 before the Principal district Munsif at Pondicherry. (See posting on 07.02.2005)

The trustees pressured Mr. N. Krishnasamy, the Hon’ble Judge of PDM, to reject our case. But heartfelt thanks to another upright judicial officer who granted us exparte interim injunction on 28.04.2005 in I.A. No.1500/2005 in O.S. No.409/2005, restraining the trustees and their henchmen from taking any action against us based on A.V. Nagarajan’s report, and noting that the balance of convenience was in our favor. Subsequently both sides (trustees and us) were given full opportunity to present their side of the case and the injunction was made final on 10.06.2005 after a thorough enquiry.

However the trustees disobeyed the order of the Hon’ble Judge Mr. Krishnasamy. On 01.07.2005 all the five sisters were denied ‘Prosperity’ items, which is given to every inmate to meet their daily and monthly needs since the inmates do not receive any money. We filed Contempt Petition No. 3782/2005 against trustees since they disobeyed the court order. This contempt petition is still pending disposal at Pondicherry.

Monday, 9 May 2005

IGP Meena Plays Foul

On 07.05.2005 Arunashri received a notice from NHRC directing her to present herself for the enquiry being conducted by IGP, Pondicherry, at NHRC’s behest for the complaint given by her to NHRC on 05.04.2005. Immediately she rushed to IGP’s office in the afternoon and they were informed that IGP Meena was out of station.

On 09.05.2005 Jayashree and Arunashri went to meet SSP (C&I) Mrs. Chhaya Sharma (close associate of trustees). After listening to them she informed them that report had already been sent by IGP and there was no question of enquiry now. We informed NHRC about this foul-play and awaited further directions.

Monday, 7 February 2005

Birth of A.V. Nagarajan’s Impugned Report

For the sexual harassment faced by us we had already approached the Pondicherry Police and the National Commission for Women, New Delhi. Both these statutory institutions were already investigating the matter. But when on 19.09.2004 the police came to arrest Girish Panda in the afternoon, the trustees woke up to the fact that they had better cover their backs.

In the evening at about 5.00 p.m. when I went to Ambabhikshu House the Managing Trustee had pasted a back dated notice of enquiry dated 11.09.2004 informing all and sundry about the enquiry proposed to be conducted by the trustees through Mr. A.V. Nagarajan, which consisted of three phases which in fact amounted to
  1. Sexual harassment as alleged by us against the named inmates
  2. Some complaints against us by other named inmates
  3. Anyone who had a complaint

On 19.09.2004 we wrote a letter to Manoj Das Gupta, Managing Trustee of Ashram, to stop this enquiry since Pondicherry police and NCW were already investigating the case. But he did not desist. The notice was placed on a makeshift notice board at the entrance of Ambabhikshu and in a way whereby passersby on the road could see it clearly.

Thereafter on 28.10.2004 we received summons from A.V. Nagarajan for the first phase of the enquiry - Sexual harassment as alleged by us against a few named inmates. We immediately informed him that he should not conduct an enquiry because NCW and police were looking into the matter. He also paid no heed to us and proceeded as planned. We did not participate because more competent authorized were apprised of our case.

We saw that a chained mental box appeared on a pillar beside the makeshift notice board and a notice was put up relating to the third phase of the enquiry - anyone who had a complaint. Thereafter for over a month A.V. Nagarajan collected complaints. This was an exercise to fabricate complaints against us. Inmates, residents of Ambabhiskhu House as well as non-residents, were pressurized by the trustees, Matriprasad and other henchmen, to give false complaints against us.

Subsequently A.V. Nagarajan issued us notice for the second and third phases of enquiry - some complaints against us by other named inmates & anyone who had a complaint. His notice did not contain the charges that we were supposed to refute and because we could not participate in an enquiry blindfolded, we abstained.

Today we have received a show cause notice dated 24.01.2005 from the trustees enclosing a copy of A.V. Nagarajan’s report dated 10.01.2005. This show-cause notice contains no charges framed against us. Brief perusal of the report also indicates no specific charges leveled against us. In fact the report contains and only gives synopsis of statements, hearsay and assumptions. Pending court proceedings, Nirmal Swain had appeared and participated in the enquiry. He also produced sub-judice documents which are totally irrelevant to the enquiry being conducted. As a lawyer he knows fully well his illegal act. His license to practice should be revoked.

We also found that an incomplete report had been furnished to us since we are not given the statements and documents which form part of the report. Trustees are again resorting to mischief and acting in their usual highhanded manner and suppress our complaints of sexual harassment completely in order to protect their henchmen.

Thursday, 20 January 2005

Enquiry Not Conducted by SWC, Pondicherry

We are thoroughly disillusioned. Yesterday, without conducting any enquiry, Mrs. Advani and Mrs. Kamalini have given out statements to the effect that a report has been given by SCW to NCW finding our complaints of sexual harassment to be false. But they have also given a most revealing direction through the newspapers that men and women in the Ashram should be segregated!

This is what has actually happened since Mrs. Poornima Advani has ordered investigation for our complaint to SWC, Pondicherry.

Due to threats of rape and more sexual harassment, we had given a complaint dated 11.10.2004 to police asking for help and protection. Thereafter on 13.10.2004 police came to Ambabhikshu House, (See posting dated 14.10.2004) and police took evidence of our sexual harassment and three pornographic chits.

Thereafter we gave a written representation to SWC about our sexual harassment, reiterating the contents of our complaint dated 06.08.2004, after having added subsequent harassment. On 20.12.2004 we were orally called, for the first and only time, by Mrs. Kamalini at SWC Office. She alone was present when we made our representations, not one office staff was present when we had been called. None of the other members of the commission were aware that we were being enquired into. Mrs. Kamalini told us that she would treat our complaint as our deposition and would call us as and when the enquiry proceedings required our presence.

We had seen jeep-loads of women being ferried by Prafulla Patel, Purushottam Iyengar, Kannan, Nirmal Swain and others. We have subsequently come to know that they were all being taken to the Office of SWC. But we have never been called again for the enquiry proceedings till date and yesterday we saw this news item in 'The Hindu'.

We came to know through the news-item that some questionnaire had been circulated by SWC to inmates. However we were never furnished a copy of it. Therefore it would be pertinent to ponder what was the role played by these jeep-loads of women when we had made our complaint against few inmates only!

The suggestion of segregating men and women clearly indicates that there is a big problem and yet how the chairpersons, without conducting a proper enquiry, have come to the conclusion that our cases are false is anybody’s guess.