Taking up a petition seeking release of Mahesh Kumar Jha alias Ashutosh Maharaj, spiritual head of Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan, Nurmahal (Jalandhar), allegedly from the illegal custody of four Dera followers, the Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the Punjab government to file the status report by Wednesday.
The court headed by justice MMS Bedi, also issued notices of motion to Arvinda Nand, Soni, Narinder Singh and Vishala Nand, all residents of the Nurmahal Dera who as per the petitioner are responsible for illegal detention of sect’s head, expected to be in 70s, for usurping the Dera property. The four Dera members had been ordered to file their replies by February 11.
Health condition of the spiritual head is shrouded under mystery since January 29 when the rumours spread about his taking to a samadhi (deep state of meditation).
The petitioner, Puran Singh, who is ex-driver of the Dera head and a resident of Ohrian Mohalla, Nurmahal, has filed the habeas corpus (securing liberty of a person) petition from the illegal detention.
The petitioner’s counsel informed the court that the Dera was established in 1983 and Ashutosh Maharaj has hundreds of crore cash and property worth more than Rs 1,000 crore to his credit. The petitioner has alleged that the four Dera followers had turned greedy and since they wanted to usurp the property, they had illegally confined the Dera head in a room and were neither allowing the petitioner nor the media persons to enter the place.
The court was informed that the four Dera followers had been spreading the rumours that the Dera head was sitting in a samadhi and would rise whenever he would wish to come out of the room. There are also rumours that the Dera head has clinically expired as disclosed by the Dera doctors, it was submitted.
The petitioner is of the view that the four Dera followers want to obtain Dera head’s signatures for transfer of properties and Dera Gaddi (sect head's seat).