The Delhi High Court on Monday took cognisance of alleged filming of women students inside a washroom at a college festival at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, saying that it highlighted lackadaisical approach of the authorities, Bar and Bench reported.
The High Court took note of the incident after a few women students from Delhi University’s Bharti College alleged on October 6 that they were secretly filmed while they changed clothes inside a washroom at IIT-Delhi for a fashion show at the college festival.
On October 7, the Delhi Police arrested a 20-year-old contractual sweeper who was accused of secretly filming the students, The Indian Express reported.
“A complaint was received through [social media platform] ‘X’ at Kishangarh police station regarding a video being filmed inside the women’s washroom at IIT-Delhi by a man,” Deputy Commissioner Of Police (West) Manoj C told the newspaper. “In this regard, a case under IPC Section 354 [sexual harassment] was registered today and the accused, a contractual sweeper, has been arrested and sent to judicial custody.”
On Monday, a division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad said that the incident highlights the lapses in security measures for annual college festivals resulting in trauma for students, reported Bar and Bench.
The bench said that there have been several such cases of student harassment at college festivals and highlighted the 2020 incident at Delhi University’s Gargi College, where several women students were allegedly sexually assaulted during an event.
“It is imperative that adequate security measures are put in place, allowing the students to attend such events without any impending fear of experiencing such acts of violation,” the court said.
The High Court asked the Delhi Police to prevent the circulation of photographs and videos recorded by the accused in the IIT-Delhi case. In case the material is circulated on social media platforms, the police should take it down, the bench said.
The court also issued a notice to the Delhi Police, directing it to file a status report in the matter in two weeks. The bench also ordered the investigating officer to exercise “utmost discretion” during investigation and protect the identity of the women involved, reported Bar and Bench.
Notices were also issued to IIT-Delhi, Delhi University and Indraprastha University, ordering them to submit a report indicating their existing policy on security measures taken during college festivals, reported PTI.
One of the students, who was allegedly secretly filmed on October 6, told The Indian Express that IIT-Delhi had provided them green rooms, but they decided to change in the washrooms as it felt more comfortable.
“Three of us were in the washroom, changing in separate compartments when I heard one of us screaming, pointing towards the window shaft,” she told the newspaper. “The window shaft was tilted, opened a bit...we saw a phone recording us through the gap. The washroom was old and broken. Later we saw the suspect in the CCTV footage recording us and running away.”
Delhi University’s All Indian Students Association unit alleged that the women students were met with “apathetic behaviour” by the IIT-Delhi administration after they raised a complaint.
“Incidents of this nature highlight the stark lack of gender sensitisation on campus, and demonstrates the necessity of instituting a Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH), which remains a long suppressed demand of students,” the student body said.