Navigating Auroville’s legal landscape and understanding regulations and residents’ responsibilities has become a must for everyone now. We are recently witnessing closed discussions and murmurous expressions of concern regarding the introduction of regulations by the Central Government. All residents must delve openly into the legal framework that governs Auroville—the Auroville Foundation Act, 1988, and the Auroville Foundation Rules, 1997, to begin with, and the subsequent regulations, and orders.
Due to the lack of public discourse, one small section of 500 residents, are using the general illegaliteracy to cook up confusions and conflicts using emergency RAD and SAD and MAD.
One crucial aspect to comprehend is the legal avenues available for challenging government regulations. Unlike some countries where local emergency bodies might possess the authority to challenge mandates, in India, aggrieved parties can only seek recourse in a court of law. This is a fundamental principle, and residents need to be aware of the appropriate channels for addressing grievances.
The legitimacy of the recently introduced regulations lies in the Auroville Foundation Act, 1988, and residents are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the nuances of these regulations. The Central Government, the Governing Board, and the Auroville Foundation are well within their powers and duties to formulate regulations and establish committees under Chapter IV of the AVF Act. Sections 31 and 32 of the Act explicitly empower the Central Government to make rules and regulations. Additionally, Section 16 provides the Governing Board with the authority to appoint committees and co-opt members. Therefore, any knee-jerk dismissal of gazetted regulations through local emergency Resident Assembly Decision (RAD) should be approached with caution.
Emergency RADs, convened to protest against Central Government regulations, lack legal standing under the Auroville Foundation Act or any other pertinent laws. Residents should be cautious about participating in such gatherings, as they may find themselves in violation of legal norms, rendering them ineligible for inclusion in the Register of Residents or to be recognized as Aurovilians. It’s essential to recognize that an Emergency RAD does not have the authority to nullify a notified regulation. Resorting to illegitimate means to express dissent not only lacks legal grounding but also jeopardizes the standing of those involved.
Moreover, these efforts are futile given the fact that a sizeable population of Auroville is working closely with the GB, and a substantial number of residents are silent. It’s irrelevant, in agreement or disagreement. Being in this reality, it’s reckless and dangerous to poke the Government of India repeatedly. The only way out is to sort the differences within the community and put a unified voice through action and work. Activism is not a way forward, and is in fact, harming Auroville, for those who work with the system to change the system. The constant belligerence of the Radicals is only bringing us heavy hand and hammer, to the dismay of the residents, who are working with the GB to bring about some relief and relaxation. The radicals would do a great favour to Auroville if they let the capable Aurovilians deal with the government of Bharat, which is markedly different than the previous governments of India.
Looking ahead, residents are advised to thoroughly study the AVF Act, Rules, and Regulations, along with internal mandates, standing orders, and circulars. Consulting legal counsel as a wider community (rather than an elite clique) before participating in any RAD is a prudent step, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the legality of the processes being considered.
India’s rising global prominence is a force to reckon with, respect and embrace. India is asserting its confidence and power on the world stage. In this context, Bharat is not going to succumb to the pressure tactics of 500 foreigners in Auroville. For all practical reasons, even if some Ministers sympathise with the radical cause, they cannot possibly be openly seen as kneeling in front of colonial antics and tantrums. For, Bharatiya like me, may call out their action as hypocrisy, given their national commitment to ‘decolonisation’ of Bharat. Thus, understanding and respecting the legal processes governing Auroville becomes even more critical. We are in dire need of able leaders in Auroville, who are not knee-jerk reactionaries, but pragmatic and purposeful actionaries, who can courageously put the interest of Auroville above them and in front of Bharat, in a respectable, and yet firm way. The ones who can align Auroville with Bharat, and yet benefit the idea of Auroville, at all times. If Auroville is supposedly striving for Human Unity, Bharat is the only natural ally and we need to navigate the legal landscape intelligently with grace, diligence and responsibility ensuring a harmonious evolution.