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On 20th January, the Supreme Court refused to entertain a writ petition that sought directions to close ashrams run by ‘fake babas’ citing that the matter did not fall within its realm.

The bench comprising of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, Justices A S Bopanna, and V Ramasubramanian heard a petition filed by one Dumpala Ram Reddy who sought to shut down all ashrams run by ‘fake babas’ saying that several innocent persons, particularly women, were being kept in confinement in such places.

Senior Advocate Menaka Guruswamy, representing the petitioner submitted before the SC that ‘Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad’, an apex body of sages in India has published a list of ‘fake babas’. However, CJI Bobde responded that the court cannot rely on the list prepared by ‘Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad’.

“How can we rely on that list. We do not know if the list was prepared after hearing them,” stated CJI Bobde. To this, the counsel argued that the organization is highly reputed while tracing its lineage to Adi Shankaracharya. However, the bench replied stating “We are not disrespecting them. But how do we rely on this list which has been made by someone based on their own principles and thinking? How does the court know who is a fake baba and who is not? How can the Supreme Court enter into this realm? The court cannot look into it.”

Guruswamy told the Court to consider the fact that criminal cases have been filed against most of these persons named in the list. In some cases, the Central Bureau of Investigation is probing serious charges of misappropriation of funds, crimes of rape and murder.

“This gives all the more reason that people should not go to them. Why do you want the Supreme Court’s imprimatur on them?” observed the bench.

As a last resort, the Court allowed the petition to be converted into a representation to the authorities in the Central government. “If the Union government thinks your problem is genuine, they will act on your representation,” noted the bench.

Subsequently, the counsel Guruswamy agreed to withdraw the petition, and accordingly the same was dismissed as withdrawn.

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