Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Advocate Commissioner’s Report Exposes Trustees

On 19.12.2008 Justice K. Venkataraman suo motto appointed an Advocate Commissioner and directed the trustees and we five sisters to choose three places of alternate accommodation each. He directed the Advocate Commissioner to visit all these premises and file his report regarding safety, security and suitability of the accommodations.

Advocate Commissioner, as directed, visited Pondicherry. Our lawyer was present along with us. But from trustees’ side a lawyer, not even on record with regard to our case, was present. Matriprasad and Purushottam Kothari tried to represent the trustees but the Advocate Commissioner refused to allow them to be present since they did not have any authorization letter of representation.

Once again the trustees had acted in their highhanded manner and named five choices of alternate accommodation. We had come prepared only with three. Advocate Commissioner showed leniency towards them and thus the enquiry began.

At every guest house/boarding house Advocate Commissioner was accompanied by the two advocates and we five sisters. Each Warden/Manager let us inspect the premises except Jenny Working Women’s Hostel. The warden categorically stated that there was no vacancy and allowed none of us to inspect the premises. Another Manager, on seeing us, told the Advocate Commissioner that it would not be prudent on his part to accommodate us since we were not used to this lifestyle of working women’s hostel. A third Warden expressed her unwillingness but said that the girls were good but not the trustees, who misrepresented and mislead other people and who were harassing the girls.

The fifth accommodation which the trustees had chosen was an unfinished structure and no one in-charge was present to show us around. The Advocate Commissioner did not mention this place in his investigation report because there was nothing to report. Later we came to know that it was a wing of Jenny Working Women’s hostel.

The accommodations cited by the trustees were for working women who were out of hostel during the whole day and only needed a roof overhead to spend the night. Most of the women accommodated there left for the weekend to visit their nearby situated homes. But none of the five sisters were working women and the thought of shifting to these alternate accommodations seemed like our worst nightmare.

Since the trustees had only cited pigeon holes as alternate accommodations for us, we requested the Advocate Commissioner to visit the Ashram accommodation provided to us so that he could better appreciate and compare the unbelievable differences between what was chosen and what had been provided. But because the trustees vehemently opposed our proposal through their present lawyer, Advocate Commissioner could not grant our wish. (Also see posting dated 20.12.2008).

Typed-Copy of the Report is produced below

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Warden of 'Peace Society' States that Trustees are Harassing the Sisters

A most interesting event happened when the Advocate Commissioner visited ‘Peace Society’, a women’s hostel cited by the trustees for inspection. The Warden of ‘Peace Society’ took the Commissioner aside and reported to him that even previously the girls had been ordered to stay here. She told him that one Purushottam Kothari and his wife Maya had visited her with an elderly person called Batti. These people claimed to be our brother, sister-in-law and father. They represented that their sisters were coming from northern India in a few days and would be here for a few months. Since women hostel was a safe place and they had heard highly about this particular one, they desired that their sisters should be accommodated under her care. They had even paid some advance.

The Warden continued her story and said later she came to know from her friend working at ‘Department for Women and Child Development’, Pondicherry, (DWCD) that these sisters were inmates of Ashram who were facing sexual harassment at the hands of the trustees and that Govt. of Pondicherry was investigating the matter. Her friend also told her that these people had come from the trustees side to misrepresent, mislead and her soft-soap her since they wanted to put up a good image before the pending investigation.

The Warden told the Commissioner that the trustees were harassing the sisters and that we were good girls. But in view of the pending litigation it would not be fair to the other already resident-women if she gave us accommodation in her hostel.

Advocate Commissioner mentioned this comment in his report dated 22.12.2008.