HC closes suo moto PIL as Delhi Police frames SOP for varsities, colleges for students’ safety during fests

New Delhi: The Delhi Police told the High Court that it has prepared a comprehensive standard operating procedure (SOP) for universities and colleges in the Delhi-NCR region to ensure the safety and security of students, particularly female attendees, during events and festivals, leading it to close its suo moto PIL.

The High Court, last year, took suo motu cognisance of an incident where women students of Delhi University’s Bharati College were secretly filmed in a washroom during a college fest organised by the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

The incident occurred on October 6, and the accused, a member of IIT Delhi’s housekeeping staff, was identified from CCTV footage.

The court had treated the newspaper report (the Indian Express), dated October 9, 2023, titled “Harassment at college fests leaves students anguished, shaken” as a Public Interest Litigation (PIL).

The report had highlighted lapses in security measures employed for annual college festivals organised by universities across the state, resulting in injuries, violations, and trauma for students attending such festivals.

A division bench led by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora recently concluded the suo moto PIL.

Expressing concern about the potential misuse of the videos, including their circulation on social media platforms, the court had issued notices to Delhi University (DU), IIT-Delhi, and Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIPU), seeking their response.

The universities were also directed to submit reports on their existing security policies for college festivals. The court had pointed out the need for discretion in the investigation to protect the anonymity of the women involved and to prevent the dissemination of photographs or videos by the accused on social media platforms.

Counsel from institutions such as the DU, the IIT Delhi, and the GGSIPU assured the court that they would adhere to the SOP outlined by the Delhi Police, in addition to complying with any directives or advisories issued by law enforcement authorities. They clarified that their existing protocols do not conflict with the newly established SOP.

The court acknowledged the commitments made by the universities and closed the matter, stating that the recorded undertakings and statements were accepted. It further said that any future revisions to the SOP would require the consent of all parties involved.


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