Over 50 women and men were Tuesday detained by police for protesting outside the Supreme Court against the clean chit given to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi in a sexual harassment case.
Social activists, professors, trade unionists and mediapersons were among those detained by police at Mandir Marg police station under Section 65 of the Delhi Police Act for protesting outside the court, where Section 144 of the CRPC is imposed.
The protesters were released around 2.30 pm, following which some of them demanded that the report of the SC’s in-house inquiry committee, which gave a clean chit to the CJI Monday, be made public.
They also said that an external committee comprising former SC judges should be set up to investigate allegations made by a former apex court employee.
Amrita Johri (33) from the Satark Nagrik Sangathan said, “The way the inquiry has happened is not credible; there was no external member on that committee. When the (complainant) withdrew from the committee, it had no business carrying on. And the report has also not been made public.”
Johri said they had not taken prior permission to protest outside the SC as they had planned a “peaceful gathering”.
“It looked like the police already knew we were going to be there. There were buses, women police, water cannons. We told them we won’t disrupt
anything and that we were even willing to stand opposite the SC, in the parking lot, with our placards. But they said we have now imposed (section) 144 and none of you have the right to stand here,” she alleged.
Activists said police made a second round to pick up the remaining protesters, and claimed some of them were “dragged” and “shoved” into a van. Maya Krishna Rao (67), a theatre artist, claimed police had used force: “I was there when we were raising slogans… a (police) bus came, they filled it with women and drove off. We then decided to disperse because the meeting was over. Suddenly, a ring of women officers surrounded us… They gathered more people who had dispersed and told us we cannot simply leave… A second bus came and they pushed me, shoved me inside,” she alleged.
Activists said they were asked to share addresses and mobile numbers of every individual who attended the protest. Kusum Sehgal (54), an activist, said: “We already gave them names of five organisations that took part today, but they still want individual details.”
Delhi Police PRO Madhur Verma said, “Section 144 wasn’t implemented here because of the Tuesday protest; it was already in place. New Delhi district sees a lot of VIP movement as areas such as the SC, Parliament and PM’s residence fall here. Every three months, the ACP of the area gets section 144 reviewed in these areas. This is why the group was detained.”
Verma denied claims that force was used on the protesters.