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New Delhi:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to examine a petition that sought a direction to the Centre to close down the ‘ashrams’ and spiritual centres run by fake ‘babas’ who it claimed kept hundreds of women inmates in unhygienic conditions that could potentially lead to Covid-19 outbreak.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre: “Look into this — what can be done. This gives a bad name to everyone.”

The bench asked the petitioner to serve a copy of the petition to the Solicitor General’s office. The top court sought Mehta’s views on the matter and posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks.

Petitioner Dumpala Ramreddy, a resident of Secunderabad said: “Though very serious criminal cases were registered against Veerendra Dev Dixit, Asaram Bapu, Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh baba etc… their ashrams are still being run with the help of their close associates and authorities are not verifying the facilities available there.”

The plea urged the apex court to direct the authorities concerned to frame guidelines in setting up of ‘ashrams’, and other spiritual entities in the country.

The petition filed through advocate Sravan Kumar contended that authorities had failed to crack down against fake ‘babas’ who were allegedly luring innocent people, especially women.

The petitioner alleged that scores of women were forced to stay in the ‘ashrams’ and given narcotics.

The petitioner cited the case of ‘Adhyatmik Vishwa Vidyalaya’ at Rohini in Delhi, where his daughter had stayed for nearly five years. Following complaints from many girl inmates, this ‘ashram’ was raided by a court-appointed panel.

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