Updated: Apr 17
In spite of everything written and repeated many times, and in spite of reality, the Aurovillagers' Stand for Auroville Unity campaign keeps repeating the same false statements over and over again, and though some of their claims are really old and were already addressed in earlier episodes, it's needed to provide facts for certain points that they claim without giving any evidence.
I wanted to give a quick list of some of their claims and debunk them with the facts, but when I started with the first points, it became clear that to debunk simple little statements in a way that shows why they are a lie, quite a lot of background info is needed that delves deeper. A quick little paragraph can't provide that, and so I'll club related claims together and deal with themes instead of just the claims.
In this episode we'll go into the legal stuff, as that is such an immense issue at the moment. Remember, the cult fights this battle on two fronts at the same time:
A media campaign that fights for people's sympathy through hugely emotional social media propaganda, turning reality upside down, giving tiny glimpses with short statements that have to be taken at face value, in which they present themselves as the victims of big injustice and violence; they simultaneously have launched a vicious smear campaign which attempts to discredit the Secretary with the Central Government and in Indian public opinion, clearly aiming at ruining her career, not only to have her removed from Auroville (her term is only three years so that is eventually “solved” by itself) but more so out of spite, for no other reason than hate and revenge: the baseness of the people who took control of Auroville should not be underestimated .
A legal campaign in which a few Indian cult members are used to file legal complaints and court cases against the Auroville Foundation – of which they claim to be important members, no less; good luck trying to grasp their schizophrenic mindset – which are all based on a very basic misinterpretation of the Auroville Foundation Act of 1988, making the claim that this legal document needs to be interpreted differently from how it is written, and that it actually was meant to give all the power to decide about any aspect of Auroville to this clique of cult leaders.
It is useful to keep in mind that Aurovillage, in its 50-year existence, has shown immense disdain for legalities. As I explained many times, the hippie-mindset was/is an identity-based worldview, in which the hippies are always the underdog and are “anti-authoritarian”. It doesn't matter what they do or how much power or which functions they hold, how much influence they have over people and actions: they will claim to be anti-establishment and never the authority.
In the isolated setting of Auroville, it was very easy to simply ignore the laws of the land: the battle with the Sri Aurobindo Society had proven to them that legality “in India” didn't mean much and that they were actually above the law. They had defied “quit notices”, had been arrested and released, and were doted upon by high-ranking politicians in Delhi. Police would not enter into Auroville after the defeat of the SAS, and since that moment, the Aurovillagers were constantly reinforced in this belief. The law never applied to them, and laws were not something anybody had to care about. The only thing that was required from time to time was brown-nosing the right person in Delhi. That was never an issue: corruption is their natural habitat, and hypocrisy fits them like a glove. It had nothing to do with being accountable or following the rule of law. Remember that Auroville was given special exemption from tax laws and such, ingraining the concept of exceptionalism into the very idea of what Aurovillage was.
Contrast that with the way they talk today. Suddenly, the letter of the law – or whenever the letter is not useful, then the spirit of the law – has become their weapon of choice. What a U-turn! They must feel like old-age apprentice contortionists: for decades having nothing but disdain for all legalities, and then from one day to the next pretending nothing is more important.
So let's look at the legal reality behind these claims of “only the RA has the authority”, “illegally appointed ATDC”, “illegally appointed FAMC”, “the matter is in the courts” and “according to the judgement of August 12th”?
To understand why all these claims are false requires clarity in the legal set-up and documents of Auroville. Even though the Stand for Auroville Unity campaign seems to give some proof by quoting some lines out of these documents, the quotes are always leaving out parts or context that is essential to put all of it into the correct perspective. Without that perspective, one is led to believe that the text means something else than it actually means, or have a weight that it doesn't have.
I strongly advise anybody who really wants to understand the reality of this issue for themselves to read the Auroville Foundation Act fully (it's not that long), and if possible also the 1997 Rules and the Standing Orders. It may seem a daunting task for many, but unless one gets to read these things for oneself, it may remain a murky topic that hinges on the belief of this or that statement that I or anyone else makes.
The website of the Auroville Foundation has all these documents available, under the tab “About”. For instance, this is the link to the Auroville Foundation Act: https://aurovillefoundation.org.in/about-us/auroville-foundation-act/. When clicking on the “About” tab on the left in the red menu at the top of the page, a drop-down menu appears which lists the other documents as well. For anyone who is totally new with this topic, please read up on episode 19 of this blog. It gives you the basic information about the Auroville Foundation Act, which I will not repeat again here.
One simple rule everyone has to keep clearly in mind is that the documents all belong together, but have a hierarchy, and depend upon each other:
The 1988 Auroville Foundation Act is the main document, from which the others derive. In the Act there is mention of “Rules” and “Regulations” that the Governing Board has to create. The 1997 Auroville Foundation Rules were thus created because the Act asks for this. So they give more specific information on what is not explained in detail in the Act.
In their turn, the 1997 Rules mention “committees”, which are not specified in this document. These are then more precisely worked out in Standing Orders. These can also be created for specific purposes, dealing with a specific aspect of the Auroville governance.
Again, Standing Orders in their turn mention teams of members who need to be appointed, and this appointment is done through Office Orders.
So the Act gives the broad lines, the Rules and Regulations give more details, the Standing Orders define the functioning of the different committees that the Governing Board creates to help with its work, or define specific structures or set-ups related to the governance, and the Office Orders give the names of the persons who at any given time are part of the committee in question.
Also to be noted is that, of course, changes made at a later date overrule older documents if they are conflicting, but normally that is always mentioned in the document itself: it is then said that this newer version annuls and replaces the former. The big issue is of course all the claims that are being made about the “RA”. The Residents' Assembly is a body of the Auroville Foundation, and is a very complex issue in itself. I will discuss its legal definition and how this body is being abused and usurped in the next episode, as it has many sides that need to be taken into account to understand what is really happening here.
What is a bit less difficult is the topic of the “illegally appointed FAMC” and the “illegally appointed ATDC” and the claims of what the result of the recent court cases are. I touched upon those in the last episode, but without giving the legal documents that back up what I said. So let's have a look at the documents, and break the “legalese” down into normal, understandable language and information. It's all not that difficult, one just needs to get a few facts in line and then it all falls into place.
The first question, obviously, is: what are the FAMC and the ATDC, and when did they come into existence? For all of such questions, we best start with the prime document, the Auroville Foundation Act, which gives a clear description of the powers of the Governing Board and the functions of the Residents' Assembly. In chapter 3, section 16, subsection 1 (this is quoted all the time, so remember whenever you read/hear about “section 16, subsection 1”, it refers to this paragraph from the Auroville Foundation Act), we read that
The Governing Board may appoint such committees as may be necessary for the efficient discharge of its duties and performance of its functions under this Act.
It's very simple and straightforward, no need to explain really: the Governing Board can create committees if it wants to, to help with its work. Note that nothing here is said about giving power away from the Governing Board to some committee, or about committees being independent of the Governing Board, or about committees doing things against the wishes of the Governing Board. No, it's clear that these are committees that are UNDER the Governing Board, appointed and supervised BY the Governing Board, doing whatever the Governing Board wants.
The Auroville Foundation Rules of 1997 completely confirm this. In rule 5, sub-rule 2, it is stated that
Subject to the provisions of sub-rule (1), the Governing Board shall determine the composition and functions of every Committee constituted by it.
It cannot be more clear that the sole legal authority and jurisdiction about what the committee is created for, what it does, or who is part of it, rests all with the Governing Board. No discussion possible.
Obviously, one should also look at sub-rule 1, as they are mentioned here as a condition. So this is the content of rule 5, sub-rule 1:
The following shall be the Committees of the Foundation, namely:
(a) Finance Committee constituted by the Governing Board under subsection (1) of section 16;
(b) Funds and Assets Management Committee (FAMC) constituted by the Governing Board under subsection (1) of section 16, with the Secretary of the Foundation as its Convener and with not exceeding ten members including the Financial Advisor, Ministry of Human Resource Development.
(c) Such other Committee or committees as may be constituted by the Governing Board under subsection (1) of section 16 or by the Residents' Assembly under subsection (3) of section 19, as the case may be.
(As I said above, the references here to “section 16” and “section 19” are from the Auroville Foundation Act, and do not refer to things in the Rules document. Section 16/1 was quoted above, and section 19/3 will be quoted later in this episode.)
So here we see that the FAMC has been created as a committee of the Governing Board, and thus is the appointment of members an affair of the Governing Board and of nobody else. It's as simple as that.
The main claim from the Aurovillage side was that the 1997 Rules mentioned twice the words “the Working Committee and FAMC of the Residents' Assembly”. In the Auroville Foundation Act, the Working Committee is created as the representative of the Residents' Assembly, so that the Governing Board can interact with only a small number of Residents instead of having to somehow have conversations with thousands of people at the same time. Sheer basic common sense is all that is needed to understand what the idea here is.
That same common sense tells us that these two mentions of “the Working Committee and FAMC of the Residents' Assembly” were erroneous, due to mentioning both the WC and the FAMC in one breath. Moreover, in rule 2 sub-rule 1c of the 1997 Rules, the definition of the FAMC is given as follows:
FAMC means the Funds and Assets Management Committee (FAMC) constituted by Governing Board under subsection (1) of section 16
So there is twice, in the definition and the creation of the FAMC, the very clear statement that the FAMC is a committee of the Governing Board. If anybody has any argument against the fact that the FAMC members are completely legally appointed by the Governing Board, I'm very interested in hearing it. Namrita Gautier and her handlers clearly did not have any valid argument in her Writ Petition 18302/2022, in which she accused the Foundation of illegally appointing the present team in the Office Order of June 1st, 2022, and she accused every member of the appointed team of illegally carrying out the FAMC's duties.
She made a truckload of emotional statements in her petition, but whatever she claimed or didn't claim has no longer any importance, as she withdrew the case and it was dismissed on December 19th. The legal appointment of the FAMC is therefore to the best of my knowledge no longer contested in any court, and the claim that the team is “illegal” is baseless and simply a lie.
A very similar proof can be given for the ATDC. This committee was originally created as “L'avenir d'Auroville / Auroville's Future” by the Governing Board through Standing Order 2 in 2008. In that SO, it was clearly mentioned that its members are
nominated by the Governing Board in consultation with the Residents' Assembly through the Working Committee
Obviously, “in consultation with” does not mean that the RA or WC gets to decide who is nominated. They can propose names, but that's all. In the end, it's the GB that decides.
Now in 2011, through Standing Order 6, the Governing Board dissolved L'avenir d'Auroville / Auroville's Future and created the Auroville Town Development Council (ATDC) instead. In this SO, the members are to be
nominated by the Residents’ Assembly through the Working Committee from amongst the Residents’ of Auroville, whose names are entered in the Register of Residents’ maintained in terms of Section 18(2) of the Auroville Foundation Act 1988
So that was a big shift, where suddenly the RA effectively got the power to nominate the members of the ATDC.
However, this is not the end of it. In 2022, Standing Order 12 reconstituting the ATDC was issued and gazetted, and in this one, the members are simply
to be appointed by the Governing Board
Nothing else, just “appointed by the Governing Board”, full stop.
Because every new Standing Order replaces and annuls the former one, it is only this last one that currently has any legal value. The present members were appointed by an Office Order based on this Standing Order, and thus everything is totally legal, there's nothing to be said against it.
As I explained last time, Natasha Storey (of course as the “front” for the whole Aurovillage cult leadership that came up with this idea and wrote the text) filed Writ Petition 22895/2022, claiming that the present ATDC team was not appointed legally. On October 13th, the case was dismissed because the ATDC members were appointed according to Standing Order 12 and thus absolutely legally appointed, the judge could not say anything else! The present SO clearly says that the Governing Board nominates the members, and therefore any claim of “but but but but the Residents' Assembly needs to have a say in it” is just plain nonsense, and not based on any legal data.
Both of these “illegally appointed” statements, repeated all the time by the Stand for Auroville Unity camp, are simply false. On top of it, THEIR claimed “RA-TDC” and “RA-FAMC” are illegal.
To try to wiggle out of the fact that they fraudulently impersonate and use names, stamps and letterhead that belong legally to the committees constituted by the Governing Board, they now suddenly have started to claim that they are legal because
“under Section 19.3 of the Auroville Foundation Act, the Residents Assembly is directed to “establish such committees as it may consider necessary which shall represent it in relation to the functions to be performed by the Governing Board”. The TDC was selected via the Residents Assembly Selection Process that was held in June 2022, and can therefore not be labelled “illegal”.
First of all: the Act does not “direct” the Residents' Assembly to do anything except be good Aurovilians. This is the full text of that paragraph:
(3) For the purpose of carrying of its functions, the Residents Assembly may establish such committees as it may consider necessary which shall represent it in relation to the functions to be performed by the Governing Board.
The word immediately preceding the text they quote from the Auroville Foundation Act is “may”. In legal matters, “is directed to” and “may” are two concepts that are extremely far apart and will never ever be confused or interchanged. One may hope that in normal parlance people would understand the huge difference already and I've not really known anybody who uses one for the other.
So that's again another demonstrably false statement. But more important is that the RA has never, literally NEVER established the “TDC” or the “FAMC” as its committees, let alone as committees that have to “represent the Residents' Assembly in its interactions with the Governing Board”. Because thàt is what section 19/3 of the Auroville Foundation Act allows the Residents' Assembly to do: establish committees to help it represent itself to the Governing Board.
We'll come back to this in the next episode, but the claim that there “RA-TDC” and “RA-FAMC” have legal value through section 19/3 is so utterly corrupting the meaning of this section, that it is in fact insulting to any legal authority.
The selections in June were held as selections for the committees established by the Governing Board in its Standing Orders and Rules. The RA has no need for a “Town Development Council”, because that is already an existing committee constituted by the Governing Board, who has the responsibility to implement the Auroville Master Plan. It would be even more absurd for the RA to create a “Funds and Assets Management Committee”, because the RA has no funds and assets to manage and has no right whatsoever over any aspect of Auroville's funds and assets: the Auroville Foundation Act, from which they quote, gives that power and responsibility purely and uniquely to the Governing Board.
The RA has never constituted these committees, by no process whatsoever, with no reason or function whatsoever. It is simply a lie that these committees were created by the RA. What they have, is exactly what we say it is: a bunch of impostors who claim to be the actual committees that were constituted by the Governing Board, and that were in the past filled with members that the dominant faction nominated or that were accepted by the Governing Board as the nominees. They are frauds and are illegally appropriating the name, the seal and the letterhead of these Governing Board committees. They have nothing to do with any committee that the RA “may establish to represent it in relation to the functions to be performed by the Governing Board”. The Governing Board has these committees established by itself, it has zero need for entitled and antagonistic Aurovillagers to come and represent themselves through fraudsters.
OK. With all this cleared up, it should be obvious that their next claim, namely that these Writ Petitions have not been dismissed yet, and that the legality of the ATDC and FAMC is still “pending in court”, is already also debunked.
I can't really figure out what would need to be said about this, because anybody can check for themselves what the judgements in these cases have been. There are two websites that can be used to find the text of the judgements when filling out the numbers given above, or by searching for cases that have “Auroville” as a party (petitioner/respondent) name and “2022” as the year: https://www.mhc.tn.gov.in/judis/index.php/casestatus/caseno and https://hcservices.ecourts.gov.in/hcservices/main.php.
On these sites one can find the official proof that both Natasha's and Namrita's cases were dismissed, for the reasons given above.
In that same vein, the Aurovillagers keep also falsely coming back with quotes of the judgement of August 12th, also from the Madras High Court. That judgement clubbed three Writ Petitions together (see for a longer explanation episode 41):
Anita Gaur's WP/8695/2022, against the Office Order of February 9th, 2022, which appointed new executives for Outreach Media and removed Fabienne (see episode 22); the WP was dismissed as baseless;
Krishna Devananda's WP/11738/2022, against the Office Order of July 15th, 2021, which appointed extra members to the ATDC; the WP was accepted, but it pertains to an Office Order that was already annulled by a new Office Order of June 1st, 2022, against which Natasha filed her WP which was dismissed;
Hemant Lamba's WP/14707/2022, against the letter of the Officer on Special Duty of May 6th, 2022, which imposed a pause on all “RADs” (Residents' Assembly Decisions) since the Register of Residents, which defines who the members of the Residents' Assembly are, had not been updated since 2005, and thus contained immense discrepancies with the real situation; the WP was accepted but at the same time the need for the update of the RoR was upheld, so it brought quite a lot of unclarity.
This one judgement dealt with all that misery in one go, and contained quite a few remarkable statements which the Aurovillagers abuse ad libitum (again, for details, read episode 41). On August 26th, the Foundation filed an appeal against this judgement (WA/1961/2022 and WA/1962/2022), and asked at the same time for a stay order on the judgement.
On September 9th, 2022, the court granted the stay order until its judgement. This is a crucial point to understand and remember. It means that the judgement of August 12th is no longer valid. It could be that the Appeal Bench upholds the judgement when it gives its own judgement, but it may also give a completely different judgement. The fact that the court has granted a stay on the judgement makes it extremely unlikely that it will uphold the same judgement: if it finds nothing wrong with it on face value, why grant a stay on it?
But let's be very clear: until the Appeal Bench gives its verdict, the August 12th judgement has no legal standing, and has zero legal validity. And unless the Appeal Bench upholds the verdict, it will never have any legal validity.
The fact that the Aurovillagers in their publications keep coming back to this judgement, shows that they do not care to inform the public about the actual, real legal situation, but want to spread the misconception that this document has legal value. Please check it for yourself: it is a lie. It is not true. The judgement of August 12th cannot be used in argumentation about legalities in Auroville or about the functioning of the Auroville Foundation.
And then, finally, the claim about what now is all in the National Green Tribunal verdict and happening with the JC report.
The most important thing to know is that the NGT verdict of April 28th, 2022, is appealed in the Supreme Court. A stay order was not given, which means that the verdict, at this moment, stands and is legal. However, as the text is not necessarily very specific in some cases, interpretations abound about what this or that point in the judgement actually means. In any case, the Joint Committee has been created according to the verdict, and has submitted its report also. The Foundation is proceeding with the Crown works following the directions of the verdict and the report of the JC. As already said in episode 47, Navroz and Sandeep filed an extra case against the JC report, asking to have the report invalidated and redone, and also requesting a stay order in the meantime. Neither request was granted, and thus the JC report stands as it is, until a judgement in this extra case is given.
Well, I hope this helps with understanding the legal invalidities of the wild claims that are being made, and that you will be armed against falling in the pitfalls of their propaganda lies.