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Chinmayanand case: Missing girl produced before SC

Source: PTI
Last updated on: August 30, 2019 20:57 IST

The Uttar Pradesh Police arrived in the Supreme Court on Friday evening with the woman law student who had gone missing after levelling harassment allegations against former Union minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Swami Chinmayanand, and was found in Rajasthan.

The SC said that the woman law student did not want to go to her home state Uttar Pradesh.

The judges had an in-camera interaction with the woman.

 

"The woman wants to be in Delhi till her parents come here," a bench comprising justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna said in an open court hearing.

The bench said the woman will be in the national capital for four days and the apex court registry will ensure her safe stay.

The top court directed Delhi Police Commissioner to ensure safe travel of the woman's parents from UP's Shahjahanpur to Delhi to meet her.

The bench said that the woman has told it she had left Shahjahanpur with her three college mates in order to protect herself.

The apex court said that the woman has told them that she would not go back to UP until she meets and talks to her parents.

The bench said that it would hear the matter again on September 2 and till then the woman will not talk or meet anyone except her parents.

It said that the woman has told them that after meeting and talking to her parents she will take decision on her future course of action.

The bench directed that a Delhi Police team should be sent to Shahjahanpur at the earliest to safely bring the woman's parents in New Delhi.

The top court concluded the hearing and said police team which will go to bring the woman's parents to Delhi will continue to provide them security till further orders.

Earlier, the apex court in the pre-lunch proceeding had directed the police to produce the woman before it after it was informed that she was found in Rajasthan on Friday morning and was being taken to Shahjahanpur to meet her parents.

The bench -- which was told by the advocate appearing for the UP police that the woman, along with the police team, was en route to Shahjahanpur and has reached Fatehpur Sikri -- had directed the police to produce her on Friday itself.

During the hearing, the advocate appearing for the UP police had said that the woman could be produced on Friday itself.

When the matter came up for hearing at around 1 pm, advocate Shobha, appearing for the group of lawyers who had written a letter to the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi urging him to take cognisance of the matter, said that as per media reports the woman has been found in Rajasthan.

"Our request is that she should be produced before this court and the court can interact with her in-camera," she told the bench, adding, "Our concern is about safety of the woman and her family."

Advocate A P Singh, who claimed that he is appearing for Chinmayanand, told the bench that Director General of UP Police has confirmed that the woman has been found in Rajasthan and there was a 'big conspiracy' against Chinmayanand.

The lawyer appearing for the group of lawyers questioned Singh's appearance in the case saying, "Why somebody for Swami Chinmayanand needs to appear in a suo motu matter."

"What is the authentic news about her?" the bench asked.

To this, the counsel appearing for Uttar Pradesh said it is confirmed that the woman has been found in Rajasthan.

Shobha told the court that as per news reports, the woman is being taken from Rajasthan to Sahajahanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

"She has levelled allegations against Swami Chinmayanand. She, in her live video on Facebook, says that he has ruined life of several girls. She has not taken his (Chinmayanand) name in the video," she said, adding that since August 24 the woman was missing.

She said the woman was found on Friday after media reports that the apex court has taken suo motu cognisance in the matter.

She argued that though the woman has been found she has not been shown on camera and the fear is that Unnao like issue should not be repeated.

The state's counsel said the girl's face cannot be shown on camera as she has made allegation of harassment and as per the guidelines of apex court, the face of such victims cannot be shown.

At this juncture, Shobha said, "She (woman) can be brought to the court today itself".

"Where is she now," the bench asked the state's counsel, adding, "Where is her exact location now? Find out. You can contact the concerned Superintendent of Police".

"Find out where is her exact location and at what time she can be produced before the court," the bench told the state's counsel.

At around 1.30 pm, the state's counsel told the court that she had talked to the authorities and the woman, accompanied by a police team, were at Fatehpur Sikri while on their way to Sahajahanpur.

"They (authorities) are saying it will take around two-and-a-half hour to reach Delhi. Her (woman) friend is also with her," the state's counsel said.

The bench then asked the court master to call the registrar (judicial) and after the officer came to the court, the bench asked him to coordinate with the concerned authorities so that the woman can be produced before the court.

When the bench was dictating the order asking UP government to produce the woman before it on Friday itself, the state's counsel said that it should also be recorded that the woman has been found with a boy.

Shobha strongly opposed the contention of the state's counsel and said, "It should not be recorded. We do not know why the state is insisting on this."

The bench, while refusing to record this in its order, said that after the woman would be produced, it would interact with her in-camera and then the bench would assemble to pass appropriate order in the matter.

The Shahjahanpur police had on Tuesday lodged a first information report against Chinmayanand after the student went missing following her allegation in a video clip that he had been harassing her. She also spoke about threat to her and her family's life in the video clip.

Her father had filed a complaint with police accusing Chinmayanand of sexually harassing her, a charge refuted by the BJP leader's lawyer who claimed it was a 'conspiracy' to blackmail him.

The woman's father had alleged that she went missing at the behest of the 72-year-old BJP leader, who heads Mumukshu ashram. She is a post-graduate student in one of the colleges run by the ashram.

The group of lawyers, in a letter addressed to CJI Gogoi, had requested "Your lordships, we the undersigned members of the legal fraternity and practising lawyers of this court are extremely disturbed and concerned about the wellbeing of the girl concerned.

"We as a society cannot allow another 'Unnao case' to happen. This court has been interfering in letter petitions when it comes to protection of human rights."

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