In August 2015, Delhi woman Jasleen Kaur posted a photo of a man, Sarvjeet Singh, on Facebook and accused him of harassment. Sarvjeet says she is the culprit.
New Delhi: Three years after her showdown with a man at a Delhi traffic intersection went viral, Jasleen Kaur, 23, defended her absence in the past 14 hearings as she made her maiden appearance in a court here.
Recording her statement in the case filed against Delhi youth Sarvjeet Singh, 28, for allegedly misbehaving with and verbally harassing her during an encounter on 23 August 2015, she said her silence should not be seen as her weakness.
“I am not giving up,” she said. “I will fight till the end and make this reach its logical conclusion.”
Jasleen is currently working in Canada, where she initially went for higher studies. Apologising to the court, she cited “academic commitments” to explain her absence at the previous hearings.
Sitting in an enclosure inside Tis Hazari court number 158, facing away from Sarvjeet, Jasleen broke down several times as she presented her side of the story about what happened that night.
After Jasleen’s statement was recorded, Sarvjeet’s lawyer carried out a cross examination, following which the next hearing was scheduled for 12 December. The phone Jasleen used to click Sarvjeet’s photo that night was also sent for forensic examination.
Jasleen’s account is widely divergent from that offered by Sarvjeet, who says she was the one who misbehaved with him after a traffic dispute and threatened to have him arrested.
What happened next is well-known: Jasleen posted a photo of Sarvjeet on Facebook and accused him of making obscene comments about her. Sarvjeet chipped in with his own clarification on the social media website, but not before the post went viral and television news channels labeled him the ‘Delhi pervert’. He was then booked.
In 2015, after Jasleen’s post went viral, a purported eyewitness, Vishwajeet Singh, vouched for Sarvjeet’s innocence and backed his account. However, Vishwajeet does not feature in the list of nine witnesses, as police have not been able to trace him. Jasleen’s lawyer, meanwhile, has labeled him a plant.
A long wait
Arguments in the case against Sarvjeet are yet to begin on account of witness and complainant Jasleen’s absence so far.
Singh had told ThePrint in an interview earlier this year that his life had come to a standstill as a result — he was struggling to keep a job, has to appear at a police station every time he needs to leave the city, and is yet to get a passport.
“Each time I go to the court for the hearing, they call out my name, ask me to put my hand up and write down my name,” Sarvjeet had told ThePrint.
“They ask if the complainant has come. Because she is absent, another date is given and the matter is dismissed. This has been happening for the past three years” he had said.
‘He took advantage of my absence’
Speaking to ThePrint Monday, Jasleen said Sarvjeet had used her silence to gain sympathy on social media.
“I was not making any unnecessary comments as I wanted the law and the judiciary to take its own time,” she told ThePrint.
“He had an advantage over me, since he was here and I was in Canada caught up in my studies,” she added.
“He gave incorrect statements to the media saying that a non-bailable warrant has been issued against me. He could say all this because I was not here to defend myself,” she said. “But I really do not care about this propaganda on social media, I have full faith in the judiciary.
“Even when I left for Canada, I knew I will come back for the proceedings,” she added. “I did not run away. This is why my father attended all the hearings.”
In court, Jasleen said she had felt “threatened” while coming to the premises because of the abuses and threats hurled at her on social media by Sarvjeet’s supporters.
“I feared for my life,” she said. “Saravjeet had uploaded a photo of the court room on social media, which is not just contempt but also a threat. What if a mob had attacked me inside court today?
“I get messages from people who threaten me for making Saravjeet suffer. How have people decided that he is innocent? It is for the court to decide,” she added.
“It takes a lot of courage for a girl to speak up and fight, and if she is treated this way, it is disheartening,” she said.
Sarvjeet, on the other hand, rued the time he had lost suffering.
“If she had come to give her statement three years ago, the case would have moved fast,” he added. “She delayed it for three years just because she could not take out time from her studies, while I struggled here to keep a job and was labeled a pervert by all,” he told ThePrint.
“If she says she wants to fight the case, she should be present at all hearings, when she is needed,” Singh said.