HC directs Delhi police to ensure adequate force provided at colleges during cultural festivals for students’ safety

 The Delhi High Court Thursday directed the Delhi police to ensure adequate personnel are provided before holding any cultural festival or such programmes at colleges as it is their duty to ensure the safety of students.

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula said as and when such functions take place in any college or educational institution, it shall be the duty of the authorities, including Delhi police, to ensure the safety and security of students.

The high court, which disposed of a petition seeking a court-monitored CBI investigation into the incident of alleged sexual harassment of girl students during a cultural festival at the all-women Gargi College of Delhi University in February 2020, said it will pass a detailed order in the matter.

“In order to avoid such unfortunate incidents in future, the Commissioner of Delhi Police is directed to ensure that before holding any such programme, proper police force is provided,” the bench said.

During the hearing, the counsel for Delhi police submitted the city police have filed an “untraced report” before the trial court as not even a single girl identified anyone who sexually harassed them. An untraced report is filed when an accused does not join investigation or police are unable to arrest an accused in a case.

The students said they were molested but none of them came forward for recording their statement before a magistrate as they have moved on in their lives and their families do not want to pursue any criminal, police said.

The Delhi police’s counsel also said they have scanned the CCTV footage of the camera installed outside the college gate but could not identify who all indulged in alleged acts of sexual harassment.

The high court said since the matter is pending before a magisterial court in Saket, no further orders are required to be passed in the PIL.

On February 6, 2020, a group of men broke into Gargi College during the ‘Reverie’ fest and allegedly groped, harassed and molested the attendees, who claimed security officials stood watching when the incident took place.

The incident came to light after some students took to Instagram to narrate their ordeal and alleged that security personnel did nothing to control the unruly groups.

Petitioner M L Sharma, an advocate, has alleged in his public interest litigation filed after the incident that it was a planned political and criminal conspiracy hatched in the backdrop of the Delhi elections and no action was taken after the incident.

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Besides seeking a court-monitored CBI probe, the petitioner sought preservation of all video recordings and CCTV camera footage of the college campus as well as arrest of the perpetrators.

“It is a clear criminal conspiracy hatched by the political party to deploy accused persons to provoke the Delhi public for effecting voting in their favour. Despite the presence of Delhi Police … on February 6, neither principal nor other state authorities tried to stop and arrest the accused persons,” the PIL has claimed.

According to the police, a case was registered under Indian Penal Code 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).

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