Delhi HC: Recurring security breaches at college festivals show carelessness of authorities

The high court has taken suo motu cognisance of security breaches and incidents of sexual harassment in the campuses of Delhi HEIs
Pic Credit: EdexLive
Pic Credit: EdexLive

After several female students of Delhi University alleged that they were secretly filmed while changing in a washroom on the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi campus for a fashion show at the institute's fest, the Delhi High Court has taken suo motu cognisance of security breaches at college festivals and demanded action by authorities.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma passed an order on Monday, October 9, stating that it was essential that security measures in such events are beefed up. They say that this is to allow students to attend such events without any impending fear of experiencing such acts of violation, reports PTI.

Earlier, the court also dealt with incidents of alleged sexual harassment of female students of the all-women Gargi College of Delhi University, during a cultural festival in February 2020. The court deems it unfortunate that it has been confronted with several cases of students being harassed during such festivals. 

The court said, “Such recurrent instances show the lackadaisical approach of authorities organising such festivals in envisaging and enforcing protective mechanisms, aimed at ensuring safety of students participating or attending the event.” 

“Thus, in view of the afore-noted episode, this Court deems it appropriate to take suo motu cognisance of the issue of security breaches, particularly in respect of female attendees, at the festivals organised by colleges/universities in Delhi-NCR,” said the bench, also comprising Justice Sanjeev Narula.

IIT Delhi, Indraprastha College (IP College), and Delhi University received notices from the court, which asked them to submit a report of their existing security protocol that they follow during their college and campus festivals. 

 As for the incident at IIT Delhi, the court directed the Delhi police to submit a status report of action taken against the accused in two weeks.

“This episode has left the victims distraught, and has understandably raised concerns regarding misuse of the videos, including their circulation on various social media platforms,” the court stated.

“Given the gravity and sensitivity of the matter, we are of the opinion that immediate action is required,” it observed.

The court also served notice to the Delhi government and the Delhi Police and was informed that a case had been launched under Section 354C (voyeurism) of the Indian Penal Code, and the accused was currently in judicial custody.

The court also directed the Investigating Officer (IO) to use extreme caution during the probe and to keep the women involved anonymous.

It also ordered that immediate efforts be made to prevent the distribution of images and recordings taken by the defendants. If such content is found on any of the social media platforms, the Deputy Commissioner of Police and the IO are directed to take urgent action to remove it in accordance with the law, it said.

The case would be heard again on November 10.

On October 6, around ten students from Delhi University's Bharti College claimed that they were secretly filmed while changing in the IIT Delhi washroom for a fashion presentation during the institute's Rendezvous festival.

In a video released on social media, the girls said that after being told, the administration did not take anything against the accused.

The event was reported to the Kishangarh police station, and the offender, a 20-year-old contractual cleaner, was apprehended, according to the police.

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