The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the police to conduct a “thorough search” of the “entire” 1,000 acre JNU campus, including “rooftops, water tankers, hostels and classrooms and open areas” using “sniffer dogs” to look for traces of student Najeeb Ahmad, who “disappeared” from the campus two months ago.
The direction was issued during the hearing of the habeas corpus plea filed by Najeeb’s mother, who has alleged that police were not looking into the possibility that the student had been “abducted”.
The bench of Justice G S Sistani and Justice Vinod Goel also asked the university and the JNU Students’ Union to file an affidavit, stating that “full cooperation” will be extended to the police during the search process. The court also said the police could extend the search to the Jamia campus if required, after getting their permission.
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JNU counsel Monika Arora told the court that a “full search” of the campus had been conducted by the JNU authorities and the Delhi Police after Najeeb’s disappearance, but the police argued that the “search” did not cover the entire campus.
“Did you search the rooftops and hostels and water tanks? Did they use sniffer dogs earlier?,” asked the bench before directing a “scan” of the campus.
Advocate Colin Gonsalves, who is representing Fatima, also told the court that he had “received instruction from the JNUSU” that the students were ready to cooperate with the search.
Delhi Police standing counsel Rahul Mehra told the court that the police were looking into conducting “lie detector tests” of students who had allegedly been involved in the altercation with Najeeb, which was likely to take about 10 days. The bench has directed the FSL to “give priority” to the case and expedite the reports.
The bench has also directed the university to look into setting up of CCTV cameras in the campus, after the Delhi Police said it was “difficult” to ascertain how Najeeb had left the campus since there was no CCTV footage. JNU counsel Advocate Monika Arora said the proposal to set up CCTV cameras had been shelved after “opposition by students”. The court, however, observed that the issue of “privacy” was “subject to reasonable restrictions”, and that the cameras were for security and would “not be inside the students’ rooms”.
The court also observed that the students who had been involved in the alleged incident “could not be experts” to have “hidden” Najeeb for over two months and asked police to look into all angles. “He could not have just vanished,” said the bench.
Najeeb, a student of School of Biotechnology at JNU, went missing on October 15 following an alleged on campus scuffle with ABVP members the night before.
Gonsalves said he was “not satisfied with the police investigation” so far and argued that the police were focusing on the aspect of Najeeb’s alleged mental state and were “ignoring” the angle that he may have been abducted and “may even be dead”.
He also questioned the police “theory” that Najeeb had taken an autorickshaw.