30 August 2019
New Delhi: Supreme Court judges on Friday interacted with the girl who went missing from Shahjahanpur in UP and allowed her to meet her parents as per her wish, and also directed Delhi Police to facilitate the travel of her parents to Delhi.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court ordered the Uttar Pradesh government to produce the girl before it. She had gone missing after accusing former Union minister Swami Chinmayanand of sexually harassing her.
A bench headed by Justice R. Banumathi said the judges will interact with the girl and the interaction will be kept confidential.
The Uttar Pradesh Police had told the court that the girl, a law student, had been found with a friend in Rajasthan. The UP government's standing counsel informed the court that the girl was safe and that she was being taken home by a police team.
In the evening after briefly interacting with the girl, Justice R. Banumathi said the girl did not wish to go back to Shahjahanpur, instead, she wanted to stay in Delhi to meet her parents.
The court has given directions for her safe and comfortable stay at any of guest houses on the panel of Delhi Legal Services Authority.
"We are concerned about her safety and comfort. We will not allow lawyers to meet her. Let her parents meet her first," said the court.
Shobha Gupta, the petitioner, insisted the court should allow her parents to talk to her, as her father is eager to speak to her.
Vikramjeet Banerjee, representing UP, said she is not an accused and whatever is comfortable for her "we are ready to make those arrangements".
The judge observed that Delhi police should get her parents from Uttar Pradesh.
The court observed that the girl was very responsive to the questions put to her.
The court said as per girl's statement, she left her native place along with three college mates, who are also famliy friends, and told the judges that after meeting her parents, she will decide on future course of action.
"Considering the facts of the case, we direct Delhi Police to depute a team to make her travel to Delhi comfortable", observed the court.
The court also directed the registry to make arrangements for the stay of the girl in the guest house for four days.
"The registrar will coordinate the meeting of girl with her parents. The girl shall not meet others till she meets parents. The girl will use the landline phone at the place of her stay, and the guest house will permit her to use landline to talk to her parents", said the court.
The UP counsel argued that she should not have access to anybody except her parents, and objected to lawyers meeting her. The court barred her from meeting except parents till the court meets her again.
The court has fixed the matter for further hearing on Monday.
The girl, a law student, had gone missing on August 24 after posting a video on Facebook, alleging that a "big leader of the Sant Samaj" had "destroyed the lives of many other girls and has also threatened to kill me". She requested Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help her.
The woman's video was widely circulated on social media. Based on the video, her father blamed Chinmayanand, a former Union Minister who heads the management of the college where the woman studies.
The police filed the family's case only on August 27, three days after she went missing, and charged Chinmayanand with kidnapping and criminal intimidation.
The former MP, however, was not questioned. His lawyer asserted that the allegations were false and it was an attempt to extort money from the politician.
"We did conduct raids in the Chinmayanand ashram. Our teams spoke to several people in his ashram. Our first focus was to recover her safely," the Uttar Pradesh Police chief said.
The Supreme Court, on Thursday, decided to take up the case after lawyers raised concerns that it could turn into another Unnao case where a powerful Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar -- expelled only recently from the party -- is accused of raping a minor girl from his village in 2017 and conspiring to murder her in a recent car crash.
Chinmayanand, 72, runs an ashram in Shahjahanpur and five colleges in the town. He also runs ashrams in Haridwar and Rishikesh.
Chinmayanand has been refusing to answer questions posed by journalists.