Over 50 women were detained under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code on Tuesday as they protested outside the Supreme Court in New Delhi against the clean chit given to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi by an in-house panel investigating sexual harassment allegations against him.
Multiple women said on Twitter that they were detained and taken in a police van to the Mandir Marg police station despite the protest being a peaceful one.
Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973 empowers a magistrate to prohibit an assembly of more than four people in an area. This is usually imposed in an area when violence and rioting is anticipated.
Reports said the women were mostly lawyers and activists who were protesting against the manner in which the investigation was carried out in the case.
Many of them took to Twitter, tweeting with the hashtag #SupremeInjustice to narrate how they were pushed into police vans and taken to the police station.
Others said that the women were manhandled by the police and that they were not even allowed to protest for five minutes.
People present at the police station said that they had been detained for over three hours. And there were paramilitary forces present to deal with the peaceful protests.
The incident drew criticism from many quarters, with more Twitter users saying state machinery was being used to muzzle dissenting voices.
The in-house inquiry committee was headed by Justice SA Bobde, who is the senior-most judge in the Supreme Court after the CJI, and its two other members are women judges of the apex court — justices Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee.
The complainant responding the the clean chit said on Monday, “I am now extremely scared and terrified because the In- House Committee, despite having all material placed before them, appears to have given me no justice or protection and said nothing about the absolutely malafide dismissals and suspensions, indignities and humiliations suffered by me and my family.”