Delhi High Court on Monday, sternly asked the city police to "cut across all political barriers" and find missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmed, saying there could be "something more" to his disappearance as no one can just vanish from the heart of the national capital.
Expressing concern over the whereabouts of the student who has remained untraced for 45 days now, the court also raised several questions, including why the alleged on-campus scuffle between Najeeb and some members of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the injuries sustained by Najeeb was not mentioned in the Delhi Police's status report.
A bench of justices G S Sistani and Vinod Goel said if a person disappears from the national capital and remains untraced, then it would create a "sense of insecurity" in the people here and asked the police to explore all angles.
"This is the heart of India, the national capital. No one can just disappear from here. It creates a sense of insecurity in people. If he disappeared, then there is something more to that. All angles have to be explored. 45 days is a long period for someone to be underground," it said to the police which is of the view that Najeeb was "not forcefully abducted".
After perusing the status report of Delhi Police, the court asked why was Najeeb taken to the Safdarjung Hospital in an ambulance if he had no apparent or visible injuries, as this detail was missing from the police report.
It also asked why the report does not say anything about the alleged on-campus scuffle between Najeeb and some members allegedly of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) who are alleged to have brutally beaten him up and only mentions that the missing student had slapped one of them.
The judge questioned why the police waited till November 11 to interrogate those persons with whom Najeeb allegedly had an altercation on the night of October 14-15, prior to his disappearance on October 15 and against whom a criminal complaint was lodged on October 17.
"Cut across all political barriers. Get him back. You will get your answers at either of the two places, Jamia or JNU. No need to go to Aligarh or any other place so far," the bench told the police, which said that an auto driver has claimed to have dropped off Najeeb at the Jamia Milia Islamia University. (More) The court was hearing a habeus corpus plea filed by the
student's mother 45-year old Fatima Nafees, who was in court today and was in tears during the hearing. She has sought directions to the authorities to trace her 27-year-old son who was pursuing MSc in Biotechnology from JNU.
During the hearing, the bench said it did not want to tell the police what to do but it can easily "shadow" some of the persons involved in the matter to know what was going on and to "fearlessly" tell the court what it has found out.
The court was also not pleased with the "attitude" of the JNU Vice Chancellor for not assigning anyone in the matter despite being served a copy of the petition.
"He does not think it is an important matter? This is not a good attitude," it said and directed JNU to file a response to the woman's plea by the next date of hearing.
The court also asked the varsity to reconsider Najeeb's expulsion from the hostel, if not already done so, and to advertise in newspapers that they will reconsider his punishment once he returns.
It asked Najeeb's mother to issue a statement asking him to return and directed the management and students of JNU to assist and cooperate with the police to trace him.
During arguments, the police said its Crime Branch was exploring all angles, including that Najeeb's disappearance had something to do with his "illness of mental depression" for which he was under medication since 2012. It was also of the view that he was hiding as he was probably ashamed of being expelled from the hostel.
Senior advocate Colin Gonzalves, appearing for Fatima, argued that he was "disappointed" by the manner of probe as the agency was not exploring the possibility of Najeeb being abducted as he was allegedly threatened by the ABVP members.
The court said someone getting beaten up in a college hostel was "not unusual", but no one disappears over it.
It also took note of the steps taken by the police, like uploading his details to the Zonal Integrated Police network, putting up notices across the city and issuing advertisements in newspapers, apart from enhancing the reward from Rs 50,000 to Rs five lakh for information leading to his recovery.
Najeeb's mother, in her petition filed through advocate Ali Qambar Zaidi, sought the setting up of a "court appointed Special Investigation Team of impartial officers of proven integrity from outside the state of Delhi" to take over the entire investigation from Crime Branch of Delhi Police.
She has also alleged that her son was beaten up by members of ABVP "which is affiliated to the RSS and therefore, closely connected with the BJP which is the party in power at the Centre and since the Delhi Police comes under the control of the Central Government, it is not likely that any progress will be made in the investigation".