NEW DELHI: The city police on Friday told the Delhi High Court that it will file within six weeks a charge sheet in the case of alleged molestation of students during a cultural festival at the all-women Gargi College here in February 2020.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, which was hearing a petition by advocate M L Sharma for a court-monitored CBI probe into the incident, was informed that while 18 people were arrested in the matter and all CCTV footage has been seized, there is a delay in filing of charge sheet as students had returned home after the onset of the pandemic.
The bench, also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad, granted four weeks' time to the Delhi Police to file its response and orally asked the agency to file a charge sheet in the matter.
“You file a charge sheet in respect of people who have already been arrested,” it said.
Additional Standing Counsel for State, lawyer Nandita Rao, told the court that 450 people were investigated and statements of girls under section 161 (Examination of witnesses by police) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) were recorded.
“The only delay in filing charge sheet is because it was a college and then Covid happened and all the girls had gone back to their home towns. So we are making efforts to make (section) 164 (Recording of confessions and statements before magistrate) CrPC statements…Within six weeks it will be filed,” she said.
“Learned counsel for the respondent is granted four weeks' time by way of last indulgence to file a reply in the matter. List after four weeks,” the court said.
On February 6, 2020, 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.
The petitioner, in his public interest litigation filed after the incident, 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.
Besides seeking a court-monitored CBI probe, the petitioner has sought preservation of all video recordings and CCTV camera footage of the college campus as well as arrest of those responsible.
“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).
The matter would be heard next on January 18.