The woman student who had gone missing from Shahjahanpur after levelling harassment allegations against BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand was on Friday found in Rajasthan and produced within hours before the Supreme Court.
She told the judges in an in-camera interaction that she did not want to go back to her hometown till she meets her parents.
The apex court has asked Delhi Police Commissioner to ensure that her parents travel safely from Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh to the national capital.
The woman told the court she will decide on her future course after meeting her parents. The bench will hear the matter again on Monday.
Earlier in the day, Uttar Pradesh police said their team found her at a Rajasthan hotel with a friend.
The team bringing the post-graduate student to Shahjahanpur was directed to Delhi midway - it had reached Fatehpur Sikri - when the apex court ordered that she should be brought before it during the day itself.
The court had taken cognisance of the matter on Thursday after a group of lawyers wrote to Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi about it.
The bench of justice R Banumathi and A S Bopanna met again in the evening when the woman was brought to the Supreme Court.
"The woman wants to be in Delhi till her parents come here," the bench said in a 30-minute open court hearing, after first meeting her alone.
The judges said the woman has told them that she had left Shahjahanpur with her three college mates “in order to protect herself”.
The bench said the woman will be Delhi for four days and the apex court registry will ensure her safe stay.
The woman had been missing for six days after posting a video on social media, alleging that “a senior leader of the sant community" was harassing her.
She did not name Chinmayanand, a former Union minister. But in a police complaint, her father alleged that he was behind her disappearance.
He accused Chinmayanand of sexually harassing his daughter and other girls at the Shahjahanpur college which is run by his ashram.
The politician, who faced similar accusations in 2011 and was booked for raping a woman who stayed at his ashram, disputed the charge through his counsel.
Chinmayanand’s counsel Om Singh had earlier alleged there was an attempt to blackmail the BJP leader to extort Rs 5 crore. An FIR was lodged, mentioning a message received by the BJP leader from an unknown number.
The Uttar Pradesh police were tracking the woman’s movement for “the past four to five days”, the state’s Director General of Police O P Singh said soon after she was traced.
"We constituted a number of teams and they were working in Rajasthan, Haryana, UP and Delhi. The STF was also deployed for tracking her,” he said.
The woman's father said she talked to them over the phone while she was being taken to Delhi.
"She has called the entire family to Delhi. She is afraid since she has all the evidence with her," he said.
After the in-camera interaction, the bench assembled at 7.35 pm for an open court hearing and made it clear that it would not permit lawyers and anyone else other than her parents to meet her at this stage.
The top court directed the registry to ensure that her stay at the shelter home which is used by the Delhi Legal Services Authority is "safe and comfortable".
"We have spoken to the woman. She was very responsive to the questions. She was able to understand English but she answered most of the questions in Hindi,” the bench noted in its order.
“She has stated that she had left Shahjahanpur along with her three college mates, who are also her family friends, in order to protect herself," it added.
"We are concerned about her safety and comfort. Let her relax first and let her parents come to Delhi. We will not allow the lawyers to meet her now," it said.
Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee said there was no allegation that UP Police would not conduct fair investigation in the case.
"We are not saying anything about UP Police. We are not expressing any opinion. We are on the issue of safety of the woman,” the bench said.
When the bench dictated in its order that Delhi Police team would bring her parents here, Banerjee said, "This should not be said. The UP Police will do this. It will be unfair and will reflect badly on UP Police".
However, the bench brushed aside his submission.
When the hearing ended at about 8 pm, advocate Shobha, appearing for the group of lawyers who had written to the CJI, thanked the bench and said they were "very sorry" that it had to assemble again after the normal court hours.
"Do not say sorry. It is our duty," the bench said and posted the matter for hearing on September 2.