New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to set up an SIT, headed by an IG-rank officer, to investigate the charges levelled by a Shahjahanpur woman law student, who has accused former Union minister and BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand of harassment, as well as the two related FIRs, and said that an Allahabad High Court bench would monitor the probe.
After interacting in-chamber with the woman and her parents, a bench of justices R Banumathi and AS Bopanna issued a slew of directions, including asking the state to provide police protection to her parents and family members and explore the possibility of admitting the woman and her brother in another college at Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh.
The woman had gone missing after making allegations against Chinmayanand in a video. Uttar Pradesh Police later found her in Rajasthan.
The apex court judges said the woman had raised certain grievances against the institution where she studied and her mother and father have some apprehensions about the safety of their children.
The bench, however, underscored that it is not expressing any opinion on the grievances and apprehensions raised by them.
“All that we want is a correction of such grievances and apprehensions to be verified. State of Uttar Pradesh is directed to set up a Special Investigation Team headed by an officer not below the rank of Inspector General of Police and comprising an officer of the rank of Superintendent of Police and other officials to investigate the apprehensions expressed by the parents.
“The SIT is also directed to look into the two cross FIRs filed in the case”, the bench said.
The apex court also requested the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court to constitute a special bench to monitor the investigation in the two cross FIRs filed in the case — one by the woman’s father and another by the institution where she was studying.
The top court said, “Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court is requested to constitute a bench to monitor the investigation of these cases”.
The bench also asked the Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh government to direct the Superintendent of Police of Shahjahanpur to accord protection to the parents and family members of the woman, till further orders. “We request the high court to review the security of the family on a periodic basis,” it said.
The bench further clarified that the case, in which it has taken cognizance on its own, will be retained only for the purpose that she can continue her studies in LLM course and first-year course of her brother. It directed Additional Solicitor General Vikramjeet Banerjee, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government along with senior advocate Aishwarya Bhati to explore possibilities of admitting the woman and her brother in another college at Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh.
The top court also refused to accept the prayer of amicus curiae and advocate Shobha that her statements should be recorded by the police in Delhi itself and said, “We are not going to monitor the investigation in the case and whatever prayer you have to make, should be done before the Allahabad High Court”.
The matter was listed for further hearing on 5 September.
On 30 August, the Supreme Court had said the woman law student, who had gone missing after levelling harassment allegations against Chinmayanand and was found in Rajasthan, would be kept in the national capital under full security.
The woman was produced before the apex court judges who said she had expressed a desire not to go to her home state, Uttar Pradesh.
The top court judges had on Friday also interacted with the woman who had told them that she had left Uttar Pradesh with her three college mates in “order to protect herself”. It had directed the Delhi Police Commissioner to depute a police team to safely bring her parents from Sahajahanpur to Delhi by Saturday “at the earliest”.
The apex court had taken suo motu cognisance of the case after a group of lawyers had written a letter to the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi urging him to take up the matter.
The Shahjahanpur police had on 27 August lodged an FIR against Chinmayanand after the student went missing following her allegation in a video clip that he had been harassing her. She also spoke about the 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.