New Delhi: Saravjeet Singh, a 28-year-old Delhi resident, who was labelled an “eve teaser” and a “pervert” by media channels after Jasleen Kaur, a former Delhi University student, had in 2015 accused him of verbally harassing her at a traffic signal in West Delhi, has been acquitted of all charges, ThePrint has learnt.
The judgment by Justice M.M. Sonam Gupta, a copy of which has been accessed by ThePrint, says the “testimony of the complainant is not trustworthy and casts doubt on the case of the prosecution”.
It also states that the prosecution has failed to prove its case beyond any reasonable doubt. “Benefit of doubt extended to accused. Saravjeet Singh is acquitted of all charges,” the judgment adds.
ThePrint had, in September 2018, reported how even after three years, the arguments in the case couldn’t begin because complainant Kaur did not attend even a single hearing in the matter. She made her appearance only in December 2018 and defended her absence in the past 14 hearings.
Twenty-three-year-old Kaur had moved to Canada soon after her viral post to pursue a career in Human Resources. Singh, in the meanwhile, said he struggled to keep his job and had to appear before the police each time he wanted to leave the city.
‘The criminal tag has been removed’
Talking to ThePrint, Singh said that he could not believe his ears when the judge announced his acquittal.
“I am feeling free today. Justice has been done and the tag of a criminal that I had been walking around with has been lifted,” he said.
“The judge had asked my lawyers if there were any witnesses to be produced. When my lawyers said that the witnesses could be called in the next hearing, the judge replied saying there was no need as the court had decided to free me,” he added.
“My lawyer and I looked at each other in disbelief and then I just broke into tears.”
An apology that never came
Soon after ThePrint’s report on how arguments in the case couldn’t begin because the complainant failed to appear in the proceedings, a former Times Now employee, who claimed to have covered the alleged molestation had apologised to Singh, saying he was “ashamed”.
Singh had earlier said that he had no complaint with the journalist but wants an apology from the channel. “They called me a national pervert, Delhi ka darinda (Delhi’s demon) and what not. That was not the employee’s fault but an editorial call.”
Arnab Goswami was the editor-in-chief of Times Now at that time. “Mr Arnab should apologise. He called me a pervert in front of the world but now the court has acquitted me. He crushed my image, so he should now restore it,” Singh added.
The apology, however, never came. Singh also took to Facebook to write a post on the same: “Agar duniya aap news channels ko dekhti hai to wo us news par belive kar lete hai…it is a req ki pehle sach pata kare..fir duniya ko dikhaye.. sirf TRP he sab kuch nahi hoti. (The audience believes what news channels show. So, the channels should verify facts before putting out a story; TRP is not everything),” he wrote
“I just want to live in peace”
Responding to ThePrint on her absence from the court earlier, Kaur had said that she did not want to “stretch this”.
“I want to live in peace,” Kaur had said from Canada where she is working for an HR company. She finally appeared in court following a social media uproar calling her “insensitive”.
Kaur had earlier also said that she wouldn’t give up and was willing to fight until the end. “He had an advantage over me, since he was here and I was in Canada caught up in my studies.”
Kaur, in a Facebook post in 2015, had accused Singh of verbally harassing her at a Tilak Nagar traffic signal in West Delhi. The post immediately went viral, with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and actress Sonakshi Sinha, among others, lauding her ‘bravery’.
The Delhi Police subsequently arrested Singh, while TV channels and social media labelled him a “pervert”. Before his arrest, however, Singh had put out his own Facebook post stating that he was innocent.