The CBI today told the Delhi High Court that a look out circular (LOC) has been issued against Virender Dev Dixit, who allegedly kept girls and women confined at an ashram founded by him in the national capital. The agency made the submission after a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar asked whether Dixit had joined the CBI probe into the running of his ashrams and the complaints against him. During the hearing, the court also observed that the ashram was not a ‘vishwa-vidyalaya’ or university as defined under the University Grants Commission (UGC) Act and it could not therefore continue to represent itself as one. It observed that the Adhyatmik Vishwa Vidyalaya, in Rohini, north Delhi, has no legal status as it is neither a registered society nor a corporate entity according to the companies law. The bench, however, did not pass any order directing it to stop using the expressions ‘vishwa-vidyalaya’ or university after the ashram’s lawyer asked that he be heard before a direction was passed.
According to the lawyer, the UGC has no jurisdiction over the ashram as it is run by god through his incarnation(s) and god himself imparts the teachings. The court listed the matter for further hearing on February 8. The bench was hearing a PIL in which an NGO alleged that girls and women were illegally confined at the “spiritual university” in Rohini. The court had earlier termed as “extremely suspicious” the conduct of the ashram’s founder and had directed the CBI to submit a report on his whereabouts. If the ashram was a “spiritual” place, why were the girls and women being kept behind locked doors, it had asked. It had appointed a three-member panel, comprising Delhi Commission for Women chairperson Swati Maliwal and advocates Nandita Rao and Ajay Verma, to inspect the Rohini ashram and its other branches in Delhi.
The committee had claimed the institute was making the inmates write letters and complaints making similar allegations of sexual assaults against their family members. These letters were being used to pressure the family members from initiating any action against the ashram or Dixit, it said. On December 22, 2017, the court directed the CBI to trace Dixit who was ordered to be present before the bench. The CBI was asked to investigate the alleged illegal confinement of girls and women at the ashram after the court appointed committee said the inmates there were kept in “animal-like” conditions behind metal doors in a “fortress-like” building surrounded by a barbed wire fence.
The court had directed the agency to constitute a special investigation team (SIT) to take charge of all records and documents pertaining to the case. At the first hearing of the matter, the court had said the situation at the Rohini ashram was “similar” to the one run in Sirsa, Haryana, without making any direct reference to Gurmeet Ram Rahim or the Dera Sacha Sauda sect led by him.