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Monday, February 17, 2020

Delhi: Law student alleges sexual assault by Tihar counsel

The woman alleged that on finding herself trapped inside his bedroom, she sent panicked messages to her friend and eventually managed to escape by pushing him away.

Written by Anand Mohan J | New Delhi | Published: January 23, 2020 2:00:21 am
Law student alleges sexual assault by Tihar counsel Police have not made an arrest in the case so far, though officers confirmed that a probe is on. Police said the accused worked with the Delhi High Court legal services committee at the time of the alleged incident. (Representational Image)

A teenaged law student has accused a lawyer working as a legal aid counsel at Tihar Jail of sexual assault. The student was working as an intern at the prison’s legal aid department when the alleged incident took place. The student filed the FIR at Lajpat Nagar police station and alleged that the lawyer lured her to his home, forced himself on her and kissed her against her consent.

The woman alleged that on finding herself trapped inside his bedroom, she sent panicked messages to her friend and eventually managed to escape by pushing him away.

“Even the way back was dark and scary, and he tried to be inappropriate with me then too. If it wasn’t for passersby on the street, I fear he may have done something worse to me…,” her FIR read.

Police have not made an arrest in the case so far, though officers confirmed that a probe is on. Police said the accused worked with the Delhi High Court legal services committee at the time of the alleged incident.

“The victim’s statement was recorded and an FIR was filed under sections 323 (causing hurt), 342 (wrongful confinement), 354 (assault or criminal force to a woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 354-(A) (assault or criminal force to a woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the IPC. The accused was working as a legal aid counsel at Tihar Jail. He will be called for questioning,” said a senior officer.

Tihar DG Sandeep Goyal said, “The law student had approached us. We took a copy of her complaint and sent it to the Delhi High Court Legal Services Committee (DHCLSC) for appropriate action.”

Member Secretary of the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLA) Kanwal Arora said he informed the DHCLSC about the alleged incident, following which the lawyer was dropped from the panel. “We just refer cases to the lawyers on that panel. They are not our employees, so we approached the DHCLSC,” Arora said.

Speaking to The Indian Express, the student alleged: “After approaching the Tihar DG and the DSLA, I had to file the FIR on my own. I faced a lot of difficulty as police kept saying there was a delay of two weeks in reporting the matter. An IPS officer known to me personally intervened and the FIR was registered.”

The victim said the accused first allegedly harassed her inside Tihar Jail premises on January 6. She told police that he argued with her on trivial issues and was aggressive multiple times. As she was leaving, the accused allegedly asked her if she could drop him home, where he stayed with his family. She told him she could drop him at Central Delhi as she had to meet a friend, who was waiting at North Avenue.

The accused allegedly managed to convince her driver to take him to his locality, and asked her to accompany him to an eatery and then to his house. “To my utter dismay, I realised that he lied to me by saying that he lived with his family,” she said, as per the FIR.

“As I reached the flat, he insisted that I accompany him to his bedroom and I, in the most unambiguous words, said that I did not wish to go to his bedroom,” she told police in her complaint.

The woman said she told the lawyer that her friend had left North Avenue and was reaching the location in five minutes. “This is the first time he used force against me and asked me to accompany him to his bedroom… I felt quite scared of a possibility of physical force… I was forced to go to his bedroom,” she alleged. The woman then sent messages to her friend and shared her live location on WhatsApp.

In her complaint, she alleged that he then “crossed all boundaries by forcing himself upon me and he tried to kiss me and also touch me inappropriately”.

“I forced him away twice… he replied, ‘you are nervous, everyone is nervous the first time’… I pushed him away… told him, ‘You are a lawyer, you should know that. I know how consent works,” she wrote in her complaint.

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