There were no police patrols or PCR vans and no streetlights in the south Delhi area where the 23-year-old woman and her male friend were thrown out of a moving bus after a brutal gang rape and assault on December 16, an enquiry commission set up by the government has concluded.
The panel — headed by former Delhi high judge Usha Mehra — was formed on December 26 to look into whether lapses on the part of the police or any other authority led to the incident. It submitted its report to law minister Ashwani Kumar and home secretary RK Singh on Friday.
The report, five weeks ahead of schedule, slammed the police and city transport department for complete lack of coordination. “The bus in which the unthinkable crime allegedly took place ferried schoolchildren without a valid permit between March and November 2012. Children’s safety was at stake for eight months and all concerned authorities were sleeping,” justice Mehra said.
The panel pointed out that the official responsible for transport enforcement rules remained stationed near Sangam Cinema in south Delhi between 5pm and 11pm that day “and did not bother to take rounds of the area where they were on duty”.
“There was no patrolling, no streetlights and no PCR vans in the area when the victims were thrown out of the bus.”
Based on evidence tendered before the panel, justice Mehra concluded that the police and transport authorities cannot escape blame for having failed in their basic duties.
However, she added: “On the basis of records produced before us by the police, it appears there was no delay in PCR vans reaching the spot.”
On whether the friend’s statement to the panel about alleged delay in providing medical aid to the victim was at variance with what he told a TV channel, she said, “A judge cannot go by statements given on other forums.”