Jasleen vs Saravjeet: What’s Actually Been Happening In Court?

Jasleen vs Saravjeet: What’s Actually Been Happening In Court?

India

Video Editors: Sandeep Suman & Purnendu Pritam
Camera: Shiv Kumar Maurya

Days after media reports claimed that Jasleen Kaur had not attended a single court hearing against Saravjeet Singh in the last three years, Jasleen Kaur told The Quint that her “silence is being mistaken for weakness”.

In August 2015, Jasleen, then a student at New Delhi’s St Stephen’s College, wrote a Facebook post with a picture of Saravjeet, alleging that she had been verbally abused and harassed by him on the streets of Tilak Nagar in West Delhi. Taking cognisance of Jasleen’s post, the Delhi police had registered a case against Saravjeet and arrested him.

According to a follow-up of the story, done by The Print on 9 September 2018, Saravjeet has claimed that the case is now stuck in limbo because Jasleen has not attended any of the 13 hearings in the case, despite being summoned by the judge, and his life is being negatively affected by the stain on his reputation.

But speaking exclusively to The Quint, Jasleen has refuted the report in The Print, in which Saravjeet claimed that the judge had issued a bailable warrant against her and would issue a non-bailable warrant against her if she fails to show up at the next hearing. “No bailable warrant has been issued against me,” Kaur said, adding that the same can be verified from court officials.

When contacted by The Quint, Saravjeet repeated his claim that during a previous hearing, the judge in question had already issued a bailable warrant against Jasleen Kaur for her prolonged absence from hearings.

“The judge has already issued a bailable warrant against Jasleen and said a non-bailable warrant would be issued if she fails to show up at the next hearing. The judge also said the case would be dismissed if she doesn’t appear before the court at the date of the next hearing on 1 December 2018.”
Saravjeet Singh

The Quint has been unable to verify his claim. An examination of all orders available online did not throw up any document indicating that a bailable warrant had been issued, though a fresh summons to Jasleen was issued on 16 May 2018 by the judge.

When asked why he wasn’t able to produce a copy of the court order or proceedings relating to the non-bailable warrant (which he says took place at the last hearing on 29 August 2018), Saravjeet said, “The order has not yet been published on the court’s website.”

In her response to Saravjeet’s claims, Kaur said she had not been summoned by the court 13 times as claimed by Saravjeet, but that she was only asked to provide a witness statement in court after a few hearings.

I was not summoned by the court 13 times. Since I am a witness in a state case, I was notified to give my witness statement in court after a few hearings. I was out of the country pursuing higher education, so my father represented me and informed the court that I will be attending the next hearing. I started this fight for a reason and I am not going to run away from it. 
Jasleen Kaur

What Do the Court Records Show?

The records from the Tis Hazari court (where the proceedings have been taking place) available online show that so far, 12 hearings have taken place, as opposed to the 13 claimed by Saravjeet.

The documents corroborate Kaur’s statement that she had not been summoned to appear before the court from the first hearing. A court order dated 17 April 2017 contains the first summons, asking her to attend the seventh hearing, scheduled for 28 June 2017.

However, the subsequent records also show that Kaur has failed to appear before the court for six subsequent hearings, rather than just one where her father made an appearance. At the second of these, on 23 September 2017, her lawyer (accompanied by her father) informed the court that she would return to India from her studies in Canada in December 2017, but she failed to appear at the next hearing on 18 December either, or any of the subsequent dates. On 16 May 2018, the court had to issue a fresh summons for her to appear.

Sources close to Jasleen who did not want to be named, however, clarify that after the first summon was issued, her father had asked the court to allow her to join the proceedings via video conference as she had exams four times a year. Alternatively, Jasleen’s counsel also requested the court to bear the cost of her travel to and from Canada. Both requests were disallowed by the judge. Since the time her summons were issued, to now, Jasleen has not made a trip back home as she was busy with coursework, the sources claim.

This means Jasleen has failed to appear and make her statement from the seventh hearing on 28 June 2017 to the twelfth hearing on 29 August 2018. The court’s website does not include any documents regarding the last hearing, though it is noted to have taken place, and the matter posted for next hearing on 1 December 2018.

Lingering Impact

In her response, Jasleen said the incident left a mark on her life and even brought trouble for her family members. She claims that both she and her mother face rape threats on social media.

“My family has gone through a lot over the last three years because of false rumours. My mother and I face hate messages, rape threats and abuses on social media everyday.”
Jasleen Kaur

After being presented on television screens as a predator, Saravjeet says his professional life was severely damaged. At the time of the incident in August 2015, he was employed with a firm that manufactures stickers for brands. But heavy media focus on the case meant that their clients got a whiff of his association with the firm. Soon, he was asked to leave.

After his own version of the incident came to light, Saravjeet rejoined the firm after a couple of months. But even six months into his second stint, Saravjeet would face the same questions, wherever he went. Tired of repeated questions about his involvement, Savarjeet left the job and joined a different workplace as an animation designer.

I had started working as an animation designer, when I had to take a day off for attending a court hearing. The date got postponed and I had to take a second leave, after which the employer asked me to leave.
Saravjeet Singh

Saravjeet is presently employed as a graphics designer and earns 30 percent less than what he used to previously. He says his personal life has also taken a hit.

“Who would get their daughter married to someone who's been vilified as a pervert? I’ve asked my parents to not think of my wedding as of now.”

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