The Delhi high court on Wednesday took strong exception that only a junior police officer was suspended in connection with the gangrape of a 23-year-old student in New Delhi, and senior cops, including the police commissioner, have not been made accountable.
"Why only the assistant commissioner of police, why not the deputy commissioner of police, why not the commissioner have been put to task?" a bench headed by Chief Justice D Murugesan said while expressing its anguish over the non-disclosure of the names of policemen who were patrolling the areas where the girl was raped in a moving bus on December 16.
The court also warned the city police that it cannot be blamed for any 'consequential order'. "We had directed you to give the names of the officials posted on relevant Police Control Room vans and the areas concerned. We are not convinced (from the status report) because the names of the officials have not been given. You (police) don't blame the court then. We will pronounce the order on Thursday," a bench, also comprising Justice V K Jain, said.
The bench said 'sufficient' opportunities have been given but the names of the cops have not been provided. On being told that there are 67 PCR vans deployed in the south district, the bench said, "We are not concerned about those 67 PCR vans and we are concerned about the three PCR vans and the police officials. Where is the report on this?"
Dayan Krishnan, the counsel for police, said there were two PCR vans close to the site and it cannot be said that the bus, in which offence took place, pass through them.
"Earlier, it was said that there were three PCR vans, now you are saying there were two PCR vans," the bench said, adding that as the chargesheet has been filed, it would not monitor the case.
The court had taken suo motu cognisance of the gang-rape and had pulled up the police asking as to how the offence remained undetected.
At the start of the hearing, police filed a status report in a sealed cover and the bench, after perusing it, expressed its anguish over not finding the names of the cops.
"Till now, you are not giving the names. What is the difficulty? You cannot hold back the names like this. We are not happy. Earlier also, we had expressed our unhappiness, even then you are not giving the names. What actions have you taken so far?," the bench said.
The counsel for police submitted an ACP (PCR) has been suspended. However, the submission failed to satisfy the bench which said it would pass an order on Thursday.
"We wanted a fair, speedy and high standard probe in the case. The chargesheet has been filed, we cannot monitor further. It is not in the interest of the case and the trial," the bench said.
Justice Jain wanted to know how the bus with tinted glass and curtains was allowed to ply on Delhi roads and what actions have been taken.
The counsel for police said action against has also been taken against an ACP (traffic).
"Why are you taking action against the ACP and why not joint commissioner (traffic)... do you want to say that the bus was plying in south Delhi only"? Justice Jain remarked.
Meanwhile, advocate Meenakshi Lekhi, appearing for some journalists, raised the issue of the 'gag order' passed by a magisterial court as far media coverage of the case is concerned.
"The whole nation wants to know about the proceedings in the case and the media, which undertakes to act responsibly, should not be gagged," Lekhi said, criticising the order of a
Saket court for holding 'in-camera' trial of the case.
"You file an application," the court asked Lekhi. The court also refused a plea of Monika Arora, an advocate, to expand the ambit of the PIL saying "the incident raises the larger issue of safety of women in the capital including women lawyers."
"The main issue is that if they (police) would have performed their duties, it (the gang rape) could have been avoided," Justice Murugesan said, adding the scope of PIL cannot be expanded.
Earlier, the court had slammed the police for not giving the names of the policemen who were on patrol duty on the evening of December 16.
It had, on December 19, taken suo motu cognisance of the gang rape incident and had decided to monitor its probe by directing police to carry an investigation of 'high standard' and file the chargesheet only after the court's perusal.
The paramedical student was raped and brutally assaulted before being thrown out of the moving vehicle along with her male friend. She later succumbed to her injuries in a Singapore hospital.