The Supreme Court on Thursday took cognisance on its own over reports of a woman student going missing after levelling allegations of harassment against former union minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Swami Chinmayanand.
The issue, which was mentioned before the apex court on Wednesday by a group of lawyers urging it to take cognisance in the matter, would come up for hearing on Friday before a bench of Justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna.
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.
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 alleged that she has gone 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 Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, had requested him to take suo motu action based on media reports that the student has gone missing for the past three days.
'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,' the letter said.
It urged the court to take cognisance in the matter and issue notices to the chief secretary and director general of police of Uttar Pradesh as also the principal of the college, where the woman is studying, so that immediate action can be taken to trace her, and give protection to the woman and her family.
It also referred to the reports about the video clip in which the woman is speaking about threat to her and her family's life.
In the Unnao case of Uttar Pradesh, a 19-year-old woman has levelled rape allegations against MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, who was expelled from the BJP after the incident came to light.
The rape survivor in the Unnao case and her lawyer had suffered critical injuries in a road accident in Raebareli district in Uttar Pradesh on July 28.
Her two aunts died in the incident and her family alleged that the accident was an attempt to eliminate her. PTI ABA MNL SJK
Meanwhile, the mystery surrounding the sudden disappearance of the student continued on the sixth day as her family awaited any concrete information about her.
UP police claimed the student was spotted at a Delhi hotel on Wednesday but had left the place before officials reached there. A search is under way to trace her.
On Thursday, Kotwali police station in-charge Pravesh Singh said the woman's hostel room in Shahjahanpur was sealed on Wednesday evening to avoid trespassing and evidence tampering.
Her mother had visited the hostel on August 24 after the news the student had been missing spread but she found her room locked.
Uttar Pradesh Women Commission chairperson Vimla Batham talked to the 'family members of the kidnapped girl and assured them justice by ensuring unbiased probe and her recovery', the Commission said in an official statement.
Batham also talked to the Shahjahanpur SP and the Bareilly Zone ADG and inquired about the case, a day after the Commission sought a report from the district administration.
The student's college's principal told PTI that though classes began on August 5, she has not attended any since.
He said she had begun working at a library after college hours in July 2018.