On February 14, 2020 the Delhi High Court bench comprising Justices G S Sistani and C Hari Shankar agreed to hear Public Interest Litigation (PIL), mentioned for urgent hearing, filed by Advocate M.L. Sharma seeking a court-monitored Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the alleged molestation of students during a cultural festival at Delhi University's all-women Gargi College on February 6, 2020.
Petitioner and advocate ML Sharma in its petition stated that no action has been taken by college administration and police yet. Police has filed First Information Report (FIR) on February 9, 2020 and arrested 10 accused on February 12, 2020. The Court replied by enquiring “what was urgency”. To which petitioner replied by saying there is peril of electronic evidences being tampered and requested court to preserve CCTV footage available inside and outside of Gargi College.
Petitioner filed same plea in Supreme Court seeking court monitored CBI probe in the case. But Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant denied to hear plea and asked petitioner to move to Delhi High Court. The Apex Court responding to request of petitioner to preserve evidence from being destroyed, said that Delhi High Court can pass decree to preserve CCTV footage available inside and outside of Gargi College, as Telangana High Court had passed such decree to preserve electronic evidence in police encounter case.
On February 6, 2020, some miscreants entered annual cultural festival ‘Reverie’ of Delhi University affiliated all-women's Gargi College and allegedly groped, harassed and molested the students present in the fest, despite presence of security guards and police.
Petitioner in its petition alleged this incidence to be result of conspiracy hatched by political party in order to gain political advantages. He corroborates his allegation by adding that "deliberate chants of Jai Shri Ram discloses that it is a political, planned conspiracy" and also blamed the chief minister of Delhi for not taking any action against the accused.
"It is a clear criminal conspiracy hatched by the political party to deploy accused persons to provoke the Delhi public for voting in their favour. Despite presence of Delhi Police ... on February 6, neither principal nor other state authorities tried to stop and arrest the accused persons," Sharma's PIL claimed.
According to the police, a case was registered under Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) Sections 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman)and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).
Author – Satwik Sharma