New Delhi, July 8: Fake babas and their illegal activities are giving a bad name to genuine spiritual leaders, the Supreme Court observed on Wednesday while directing the Central government to suggest measures to tackle these bogus personalities who are fooling their gullible disciples and the public at large.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde was hearing a plea seeking action against various ashrams run by fake spiritual gurus, who have allegedly confined inmates, particularly women, in unhygienic living conditions, amid fears of the spread of the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, Hindustan Times reported.

“There is a lot of money involved and criminal activities are happening. See what can be done? This kind of practice gives a bad name to everyone,” CJI Bobde told solicitor-general, Tushar Mehta, the Central government’s second senior-most law officer.

The petitioner, Dumpala Ramreddy, was asked by the apex court to provide S-G Mehta with a copy of the petition in a bid to help him suggest solutions to deal with the growing menace.

Reddy had approached the top court in April, alleging that his daughter is confined to Adhyatmika Vidyalaya Ashram at Rohini in Delhi founded by Veerendra Dev Dixit, who is currently on the run after being accused of rape.

Reddy submitted that both the Central and state governments were not taking any action against fake babas and were allowing such illegal ashrams to mushroom and on most occasions from unauthorised premises.

“Considering the urgent prevailing situation due to spreading of Covid-19 in the country, particularly in places where social distancing is not maintained … the petitioner prays for the intervention of this court for the rescue of the women/persons in the ashrams,” the plea stated.

The petitioner also sought guidelines to be laid down to govern establishments and the functioning of such ashrams and to close down those run by history sheeters.

He also cited a list released by the apex body of sages, Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad, declaring 17 babas, including Dixit, Asaram Bapu, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, and Radhe Maa as fake spiritual personalities and cautioning the public against them.

Reddy contended that 17 such ashrams are still operational and thousands of gullible disciples are staying in them.

“If this man (Reddy) says Akhada has declared that there are 17 ashrams that are fake, it raises serious questions,” the bench remarked.

Reddy sought the evacuation of inmates from the ashrams at the earliest because of the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.

“The authorities are not verifying the facilities available in the ashrams and they are in poor condition. They do not have basic amenities and the living conditions are unhygienic,” the petition added.

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