Plea in HC for CBI probe into Gargi students’ ‘molestation’ after SC declines to hear it

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NEW DELHI, Feb 13 (AGENCIES): Hours after the Supreme Court declined to entertain a plea seeking a court-monitored CBI probe into the alleged molestation of students during a cultural festival last week at the all-women Gargi College here, the petitioner moved the Delhi High Court on Thursday.

Earlier in the day, a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde asked the petitioner lawyer, advocate M L Sharma, who mentioned the matter seeking an urgent hearing, to move the Delhi High Court with his plea.

“Why don’t you go to the Delhi HC. If they dismiss the petition then you come here,” the bench, also comprising justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, said.

The apex court said it would like to have advantage of Delhi HC’s view on the matter. In the SC, the petitioner expressed apprehension that electronic evidence related to the case might be destroyed.

On this, the top court said, “The Delhi High Court can also pass order like the Telangana High Court in the police encounter case to preserve electronic evidence.”

Sharma, in his plea, has sought preservation of all video recordings and CCTV camera footage of the college campus. It has also sought arrest of the people behind the “planned criminal conspiracy”.

Ten people, between the ages of 18 and 25 years, were arrested by police on Wednesday in connection with the incident.

On February 6, a group of men broke into the Gargi College during the ‘Reverie’ fest and allegedly groped, harassed and molested the attendees, who claimed that 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. Sharma, in his plea, has alleged 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.

“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,” the PIL claimed.

The petition further claimed that “deliberate chants of Jai Shri Ram discloses that it is a political, planned conspiracy” and blamed the chief minister of Delhi for not taking any action against the accused.

Besides the security arranged by the college, the area had Delhi Police and paramilitary personnel who were stationed there for the Assembly polls.

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

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