The Delhi High Court on Thursday accepted a fresh status report disclosing the names of police officials patrolling the area in which a 23-year-old girl was gangraped in a moving bus in Delhi, after the city police tendered apology for not disclosing the names earlier.
“I tender my unconditional apology for not giving names of the policemen who were on duty in the PCR vans concerned, though their names have figured in the charge sheet as they are witnesses in the case,” Dayan Krishnan, counsel for Delhi Police told a bench headed by Chief Justice D. Murugesan before filing the fresh status report.
“The status report says that police personnel deployed on the PCR vans are the witnesses in the case and the charge sheet has their names. So, what was the difficulty in showing their names in the status report? You should have told us this earlier,” the bench also comprising Justice V.K. Jain remarked.
The court had taken strong exception on Wednesday to the fact that only a junior police officer was suspended in connection with the case and that senior officers, including the police commissioner, were not made accountable.
“Why only ACP, why not DCP, why not the Commissioner have been put to task?” the bench had remarked.
During the hearing, the court also said, “We direct the police officials to ensure removal of dark film/tinted glasses and curtains from the vehicles in Delhi without any delay.”
The court, meanwhile, asked the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to take immediate steps to increase the number of Police Control Room (PCR) vans in the Capital to ensure better safety of citizens, including women.
“We are also of the view that the Central government should look into the said issue and total number of PCR vans be increased from existing 617,” the court said, adding that the role of such PCR vans should also be revisited to use them for proper patrolling purposes also.
Mr. Krishnan told the high court that at present out of 617 PCR vans, 74 are off-road due to various reasons, including for repairs, and a recommendation on the issue was also pending with the MHA.
On this, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Rajeeve Mehra, appearing for MHA, said he will take up the matter with the government for “immediate measures.”
The ASG also told the court that a one-member committee has been constituted and it would look into the entire incident and suggest measures within three months to prevent their recurrence in future.
“You please keep us posted about the developments. Let it not go beyond three months” the court said and fixed the matter for further hearing on January 31.
The issue of medical treatment given to the victims will be dealt with later, the court said.
During the hearing, advocate Meenakshi Lekhi moved a petition on behalf of some journalists assailing the gag order passed by a lower court prohibiting the media from reporting pre-trial and trial proceedings in the Delhi gang-rape case.
“The whole nation wants to know about the proceedings in the case and the media, which undertakes to act responsibly, should not be gagged,” Ms. Lekhi said, criticising the order of a Saket court for holding “in-camera” trial of the case.
The court refused to tag the plea of Ms. Lekhi saying “we cannot widen the ambit of this petition and let your petition be filed before a single judge bench for hearing tomorrow.”
Earlier, the court had slammed the police for not giving the names of the policemen who were on patrol duty on the evening of December 16.
On December 19, the court had taken suo motu cognisance of the gang-rape incident and had decided to monitor its probe by directing police to carry an investigation of “high standard” and file the charge sheet only after the court’s perusal.
The paramedical student was raped and brutally assaulted before being thrown out of the moving vehicle along with her male friend. She later succumbed to her injuries in a Singapore hospital.