From the Working Committee, update June 14th 2022

Jun 14, 2022 | Blog, Organisation & governance, Processes by-passed, Self Governance, Statements by the RA and the Working groups

Update from the Bona Fide Working Committee of the Residents Assembly adressed to the Community on June 14th 2022:

Dear friends,

We want to update you on a few on-going topics.

1. Regular meetings of Auroville Council, FAMC and Working Committee continue

The Working Committee continues to meet with the Auroville Council and, when required, the Funds & Assets Management Committee (FAMC) of the Residents’ Assembly to discuss and coordinate responses to the various exceptional issues that the community is facing. The continued unilateral attempts by the Secretary to enforce her vision over the principles and functioning of Auroville and the Residents’ Assembly are supported by a small number of self-appointed residents, and this is understandably causing confusion and disquiet for many residents. We see the need, by listening to many residents’ voices, to stand for the Residents’ Assembly’s decisions and integrity, as well as empower it to hold its own functioning and processes which are crucial to Auroville’s core purpose and evolution.

2. Disputable ‘dissolution’ and ‘constitution’ of ATDC and FAMC by Governing Board

The Office of the Secretary to the Governing Board states that the Governing Board has reconstituted the Auroville Town Development Council with a new Standing Order and appointed members to it by Office Order. Similarly, the Office of the Secretary states that the Governing Board has also reconstituted the FAMC as a committee of the Governing Board, despite this committee of the Residents’ Assembly (RA) having operated for many years with an approved RA mandate constituting it in a formal decision in 2016. The FAMC of the Residents’ Assembly has a unique history arising from the Rules and Regulations. It has always been a working group constituted by the Residents’ Assembly and it has been formally recognised by all previous Governing Boards. The Standing Order and Office Orders which are claimed to be in place have not been shared with us or to the wider community, which are questionable practices.

Selection of members of the Residents’ Assembly for the Working Committee, FAMC, Entry Board / Admission Committee, Exit / Termination Committee, TDC, Auroville Council or any other group or committee constituted under section 19.3 of the Auroville Foundation Act, 1988, is the prerogative of the Residents’ Assembly. If any of the other two authorities, namely the Governing Board or the International Advisory Council, would like to propose membership for any such groups or committees, then the right authority to collaborate with would be the Residents’ Assembly through its duly-selected Working Committee. The selection process to choose residents for such groups and committees is well laid out and respected, although still evolving as we learn and adapt it to the community’s needs. The Residents’ Assembly has not delegated its right to select its group and committee members to any other body of the Auroville Foundation.

As some additional background, please note that the Working Committee raised at an early stage the issue of the Governing Board’s Organization and Governance Committee not engaging with the Residents’ Assembly. In its response to the 58th Governing Board Minutes of Meeting, the Working Committee stated: “There are currently efforts being made by Auroville residents and working groups to review and improve organization and governance in Auroville. We believe this committee needs to be enlarged to include representatives of the 2 other authorities of the Foundation, which are the Residents’ Assembly and the International Advisory Council.”

The Organization and Governance Committee did not consult the Residents’ Assembly nor its Working Committee before formulating its recommendations to the Governing Board.

3. Upcoming Selection Process for working groups

We strongly support all the residents of Auroville who will participate in the upcoming Selection Process during which new members will be selected for the Auroville Council, ATDC, Entry Board, FAMC and Working Committee. As previously stipulated, these are committees of the Residents’ Assembly and therefore must be appointed by our collectively agreed-upon processes. It is truly uplifting to see how many people nominated and put themselves forward for the working groups in these intense times. We are equally grateful to those randomly selected residents who will make up the selection committees.

4. Case filed at the Madras High Court in Chennai

A case was filed by the Working Committee of the Residents’ Assembly represented by Hemant L. on Monday 13th June 2022 at the Madras High Court in Chennai. The request made to the honourable High Court is to ask the Auroville Foundation represented by its Secretary to abstain from interfering with the work of the Residents’ Assembly and their lawful Working Committee. The lawyer standing for the Auroville Foundation represented by the Secretary assured the court that no steps will be taken by the Auroville Foundation till the next hearing on Monday 20th June 2022 when the case will be further heard.

5. FIR anticipatory bail granted

In May 2022, the Under Secretary filed an FIR (First Investigation Report) against six Aurovilians, including three members of the Working Committee. The first hearing took place on 25th May and the second hearing on Friday June 10th, in which anticipatory bail was granted, despite attempts by the Office of the Secretary to challenge the application made by those accused. An anticipatory bail is a preventive relief to ensure that no individual is confined in any way until and unless found guilty. This means that they cannot be arrested and sent to jail unless a judgement is reached against them. The Working Committee states that the charges brought against these six residents have no substance and are an extreme attempt to intimidate the Residents’ Assembly and its working groups into submitting to the decisions and actions of the Office of the Secretary. Please be assured that we will continue to do our duty to the Residents’ Assembly by protecting and upholding its decisions and its functioning.

6. Meetings of the community

The Working Committee encourages the holding of peaceful meetings and gatherings as and when needed, as it is important that the Residents’ Assembly continues to communicate, be informed and function in spite of the challenging times Auroville is going through. It is important that we continue to unite our diversities, and that we address the false and divisive narrative of local Aurovilians vs. Aurovilians of foreign origin which has unfortunately been spread by a few individuals. In this regard, we are grateful to the bilingual gathering organised by a group of Tamil Aurovilians on Monday 13th June, and other such attempts to uphold genuine initiatives of coming together as a community.

7. Methods of communication

Since the takeover of the domain, the Working Committee mailbox, the Auronet platform and the community’s massbulletin, the Working Committee and the Auroville Council have started setting up alternative methods of communication. The Working Committee can be reached at [email protected] and a new mass mailing system has been put in place, to which you can subscribe by filling this form. Other alternative methods of communication are being explored but may take some time to be released, therefore we suggest residents create their own private spaces for discussion if that need is felt.

More soon.

In service,

The Working Committee of the Residents’ Assembly

Chali, Elisa, Gilles, Hemant, Juergen, Sauro