Twelve women who live outside India have approached the Madhya Pradesh High Court seeking action on allegations of sexual harassment against the Gundecha brothers, PTI reported.
The applicants are former students of music school Dhrupad Sansthan – founded by the Gundecha family – and now live in the United States, Sweden, Canada, Poland, Spain, Austria and Germany. They have filed the plea before the Jabalpur bench of the High Court.
They alleged that they were sexually harassed by the Gundecha brothers, Akhilesh, Umakant and Ramakant, their counsel Dhruv Varma told PTI.
Ramakant Gundecha died of a heart attack on November 8, 2019.
In September 2020, a group of persons had first levelled allegations of psychological, physical and sexual abuse against Akhilesh Gundecha and Ramakant Gundecha on Facebook. The post stated that the students were told that they would get into trouble for saying no to the gurus at the institute. They were told they had to “give in if they ever wanted to have a career in music”, the post alleged.
The Dhrupad Sansthan then formed an internal complaints committee under the Sexual Harassment of Women (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act to address the allegations. The committee had passed adverse remarks against Akhilesh Gundecha and recommended that the organisation should reconstitute its board of trustees so that a majority of them do not belong to the family, The Times of India reported.
The committee had also recommended penalties on the Dhrupad Sansthan and measures for reparation.
After this, the Gundecha brothers approached the High Court challenging the report and its recommendations. The 12 women have filed an intervention application in connection with the case.
Umakant Gundecha declined to comment on the matter and said that the case was in court. However, he admitted that he has also been accused of sexual harassment, according to PTI.
Ramakant and Umakant gained prominence singing as the Gundecha brothers. In 2012, both of them received the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian award, for their contribution to music.
Akhilesh Gundecha, a pakhawaj player, stepped down from his position at the institute after the allegations surfaced.