Jasaur Kheri, Jhajjar: The Haryana man who has accused a former Supreme Court woman employee of cheating him — before she accused Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment — had told the police that he had stopped feeling threatened by her or her associates.
The man, 32-year-old Naveen Kumar, had even submitted a handwritten letter to Haryana Police on 18 April saying he did not want an inquiry in the matter, an investigation by ThePrint has found.
Then, he went missing from this village in Haryana’s Jhajjar district, about two hours by road from the national capital. His family claims he is staying away from the village to avoid attention since the controversy made national headlines.
Naveen Kumar’s letter was submitted a day before the woman wrote to 22 judges of the Supreme Court alleging that CJI Gogoi had made sexual advances towards her.
But three days later, on 21 April, Delhi Police officers went ahead and persisted with their plea in court that the woman’s bail should be cancelled because she and her associates were threatening Naveen Kumar.
This is the latest twist in the murky and complex story that has ensnared the country’s highest judiciary after the Chief Justice of India was accused of sexual harassment by the 35-year-old woman employee of the court.
The woman, who has since been dismissed from her job, Tuesday said she would no longer participate in the proceedings of the internal committee of three judges formed to look into her complaint because the atmosphere was “frightening” and her lawyer was not allowed to accompany her.
“Maine kuchh vyakityon dwara peechha kiye jaane va dhamki dene ke baare mein Crime Branch Dilli mein shikayat ki thi … ab mujhe aisi koi shanka nahi hai (I had complained to the Delhi Police Crime Branch that some people were following and threatening me…I now have no such doubts),” Naveen Kumar wrote in the letter marked to the Asoda police station in Bahadurgarh tehsil of Haryana’s Jhajjar district.
‘Life in danger’
Naveen Kumar, who belongs to Jasaur Kheri village in Jhajjar has accused the woman of not returning Rs 50,000 she had allegedly taken from him after promising him a government job.
The letter dated 18 April is in contrast with Naveen Kumar’s earlier claim on 9 April where he had said that his life was in danger, as he had been allegedly receiving serious threats in connection with his cheating complaint against the woman.
Assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Phul Kumar of Asoda police station told ThePrint that Naveen Kumar handed over the letter — saying he no longer felt threatened and hence didn’t need police protection — when the Haryana Police had gone looking for him.
The police had gone looking for him as the SSP, Jhajjar, had received written communication from the DCP, Delhi Police Crime Branch, on 11 April, asking Haryana police to ensure Naveen Kumar’s safety.
Naveen Kumar, however, told the police that he was in no danger. The ASI said that it was then that the Asoda police took this in writing from him.
Asked if this change in Naveen Kumar’s position was communicated to the Delhi Police, Phul Kumar said he had forwarded the letter to the complaint branch of Jhajjar Police, who would then have forwarded it to Delhi Police as per protocol.
DCP Joy Tirkey of Delhi Police Crime Branch did not respond to requests for comment from ThePrint.
The basis of Naveen’s complaint
The Delhi Police has been pursuing the case as the FIR against the woman was filed at the Tilak Marg Police Station in the national capital on 3 March.
On 21 April, a day after the woman’s letter to the 22 judges was made public, the Delhi Police Crime Branch had filed a plea in a trial court, seeking cancellation of the bail granted to the woman in the cheating case. The matter was first adjourned for 24 April, before the trial court further adjourned it to 23 May as it emerged that the notice had not been served to the complainant, Naveen Kumar.
The Delhi Police Crime Branch had taken over the case on 9 March as Naveen Kumar, in his application to the DCP, had claimed that he was being threatened by the woman and her associates.
The woman was arrested on 10 March and sent to judicial custody by a Delhi trial court the next day. She was granted bail on 12 March. Police first sought cancellation of her bail the same day before approaching the trial court on 21 April.
In his complaint, Kumar has alleged that he met the woman through a common friend, Mansha Ram, in June 2017.
The woman had allegedly claimed that she had good contacts and could get him employed either as Class IV employee or a process server at the Supreme Court and hence demanded Rs 10 lakh from him. He allegedly paid her an advance of Rs 50,000 in the presence of Mansha Ram in the Supreme Court complex.
Mansha Ram, however, passed away due to a sudden illness in January this year. Kumar has alleged that the woman had not kept in touch with him for months, and when she finally met him, she told him not to meet her again at the Supreme Court and threatened to implicate him in a false case.
‘Constant threats’ against the family, says mother
In Jasaur Kheri village, Naveen Kumar is better known by his pet name Rinku.
When ThePrint visited the village over the weekend to talk to his family, his mother Neera Kumari had just returned from Bahadurgarh, where she had gone to buy medicines to treat low blood pressure.
She said there have been constant threats against Rinku and the family, and claimed that the family found out about the cheating case in March when the police came over to the village to conduct an inquiry.
In an earlier interview to ThePrint, Neera Kumari had said that her son may have been pressured to file the cheating case against the woman after she got involved in the CJI sexual harassment controversy. Later in the same interview, she said Rinku was being threatened to withdraw the FIR and the family feared for its safety but was unable to convince Rinku to withdraw the case.
“Some men in civilian clothes claiming to be Delhi Police personnel came here asking for Rinku in March. They said they had received a message from someone and wanted him to take back his complaint against the woman,” she told ThePrint in the latest interview this weekend.
Rinku wasn’t willing to do so and the men left disappointed, saying “Rab Rakha (may the almighty save them)”, she claimed.
This has left the family worried, Neera Kumari explained.
“When he last came home, he told me three men with their faces covered intimidated him and directed him to get out of this mess… This is when he informed the police about the threats,” she said.
When asked what made him withdraw his complaint about these threats subsequently, she said “threats again” — she believes the accused and her family are powerful people.
The 48-year-old Neera Kumari admitted that she was aware of Rinku having offered a bribe to get a government job. “But we didn’t know whom he had passed on the money to,” she added.
Rinku, who has been working at a grocery store at HL City, Bahadurgarh, for several years, was tempted by the idea of getting a government job, given the security it comes with. His parents had supported the idea and were privy to his paying the court employee Rs 50,000, the mother claimed.
Rinku apparently doesn’t come home regularly for fear of being tracked by the media or police. His mobile phone has been switched off for days and he contacts his family occasionally through a friend.
His employer at HL City Bahadurgarh claims Naveen Kumar aka Rinku has been irregular to work in recent weeks. His colleagues are reluctant to talk about him.