Rape and blackmail at Haryana’s Jindal University: SC issues notice to 3 law students
A second-year-student of the five-year integrated BBA/MBA course in OP Jindal Global University in Sonepat district of Haryana has alleged that she was sexually abused by Hardik Sikri, a law student from the same university and two of his other friends — Vikas Garg and Karan Chhabra, . They are two years senior to her in the college.
Soon after the allegations were made, Hardik was arrested by the police while the other two were absconding. IANS on Wednesday reported that the Supreme Court had issued notice to all the three students.
But according to this report in The Indian Express, conflicting versions of the story retold by the victim and the accused have baffled the police department. According to IE, the victim complained to the police that she was being raped and blackmailed by three senior male students of the college. The incident came to light when the 20-year-old student informed college authorities in April that the accused men were in possession of her nude photographs and had been blackmailing her since August 2013 to have sexual intercourse with them.
According to the girl, she met Hardik Sikri in the November of 2013. “A month later, our friendship grew and he began forcing me to send him explicit pictures of myself. Even when I refused, he forced me to do so. Following this, he began blackmailing me into having sexual relations with him on the threat that he would circulate these pictures widely,” The Indian Express quoted her as saying.
According to reports, in her complaint, the victim told the police that after the incident she was afraid to file a complaint because the accused had informed her that he was in possession of her nude photographs. “Over the next two years, the accused repeatedly raped her and threatened to leak the photographs if the she went to college authorities or the police,” the officer was quoted as saying by this report in The Indian Express.
However, the police said that even after the complaint was registered the girl refused to hand over her cellphone, which had the nude photographs, to the police. The pictures on the phone are the main evidence in the case, the police said.
When the family of the accused was approached for the statement, they alleged foul play and added that the police did not even give them notice before arresting them. According to one of the family members of Karan, his mother had passed away on the day (February 4) the victim alleged that he met her.
“The boy was with us throughout till the 13th day ceremony was performed. Our child received a call from the main accused on April 11 informing him that he was in trouble, that he needed help. He rushed out saying he would be home in an hour. But two hours later, we were told he had been arrested. The university did not once call us to clarify anything,” the family member was quoted as saying.
Speaking to IE, vice-chancellor professor Dr C Raj Kumar said that the accused students were immediately expelled from the college.
Appearing for the victim, senior counsel Indira Jaising, told the court on 25 May that apart from being a crime against a person, it was also a cyber crime and the local police had no knowledge of offences involving information technology.
The court was told that the local police did not check the victim girl’s mobile which has sensitive information and even failed to take into custody the electronic devices, including mobile phones and laptops, on which explicit information and other details were stored.
The victim also told the court that the state police discouraged her from putting on record all the wrongs that were done to her by the accused, including during a visit to Chandigarh where she was forced to perform sexual acts, theIANS report said.
She complained of the “extremely shoddy, unprofessional and biased manner in which the present investigation was being conducted by the state police”. Asked about the victim’s allegation, Sonepat SP Ashok Kumar told Indian Express: “We had given the victim three notices asking her to join the investigation. She has refused to do so. She has even refused to give us her mobile phone which contains the pictures that had purportedly been circulated. We have sent the phones of the accused to the CFSL for an examination. The results are awaited.”
“Police authorities had deliberately avoided recording extremely relevant and crucial information only to make the task easier for them, thereby compromising with the investigation in its totality,” the victim alleged in her petition.
Pointing to the various pressures, including political, being brought on her parents to withdraw the case, the girl in her petition said that after her parents made inquiries about “on whose instance such requests (withdrawal of complaint) were being made, (they) have come to reliably learn that a member of parliament is behind all of this”, IANS report said.
“The interference of politicians in thwarting a free, fair, proper, unbiased and transparent investigation becomes evident when the transfer of the SHO who had registered the FIR on April 11, on the very next day, is looked at from a proper perspective,” the petition has said.
The victim has also sought direction to the CBI to take into “safe custody, the mobile phones/computer etc. of the petitioner as well as those of the university authorities which contain material evidence, until the final disposal of the present writ petition”.
The petitioner has sought direction to the Haryana government and police to refrain from taking any “coercive steps to procure the custody” of such mobile phones/computers.
While issuing notice to the law students, the apex court vacation bench of Justice AK Sikri and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit observed: “It is a case in which the accused were going to become lawyers. We don’t know what would happen to the system.”