The Delhi High Court on Friday raised doubts over the spirituality of a north Delhi-based ashram for keeping women and girls "confined as animals in cages".
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said it was "for the first time we are seeing an ashram where only minor girls are being kept confined".
"You expect us to close our eyes to this and treat this as normal? What kind of spirituality is it when people are kept confined as animals in cages? We do not understand it. "Where is the concept of free consent or spirit when you are not allowed to meet your family or friends or wear what you want to? You keep someone under your control for decades,then there it is not free consent. It is a strange set up that hundreds are lodged in closed confines," the court said.
The observations by the bench came during the hearing of a PIL by NGO Foundation for Social Empowerment, which informed the court that several minors and women were allegedly being illegally confined at the "spiritual university" in Rohini and were not allowed to meet their parents.
Moved by the issue, the high court immediately set up a committee, comprising lawyers and Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal, to inspect the premises of the institute.
The committee, comprising lawyers Ajay Verma and Nandita Rao, gave a report detailing the "horrible" living conditions of the over 100 girls and women who were housed in "animal-like conditions with no privacy even for bathing".