In A Category Of His Own

Court has been remarkably kind to DGP Rathore, who was convicted of sexual assault.

Written by Jyoti Punwani | Published:October 19, 2016 12:02 am
ruchika, ruchika molestation case, ruchika girhotra, sps rathore, haryana dgp, haryana dgp s p s rathore, rathore jail term,  haryana high court,ruchika girhotra , india news, latest news Thanks to the media, everyone knows about the police officer’s vendetta against 14-year-old Ruchika Girhotra and her family; and against Aradhana Parkash, eye-witness to the molestation, and her parents, who pursued the case.

A 48-year-old senior police officer is accused of molesting a 14-year-old. His chief finds substance in the complaint, and recommends the filing of an FIR. The state’s senior-most bureaucrat okays his prosecution. Yet, it takes a decade for the FIR to be filed because successive chief ministers promote him and he becomes the state’s director general of police.

His victim, meanwhile, has committed suicide, having been expelled from school and seen false cases filed against her father and brother. The 13-year-old brother is tortured, with the threat that the same would be done to the victim and her father if they don’t withdraw their complaint against the officer. Yet, when the molester is finally charged, it is only with “using criminal force to outrage the modesty of a woman”, not with abetment to suicide. The former attracts a maximum of two years’ imprisonment and fine, the latter a maximum 10-year sentence and fine.

It takes another nine years for the trial to end, largely because of the number of applications filed by the accused. He is initially sentenced to six months and a fine of Rs 1,000 which is later enhanced to 18 months. After five months in jail, the molester is granted bail by the Supreme Court, which takes into account the time he has already spent in jail.

Six years later, these five months are considered punishment enough by the same court. His conviction is upheld, but he, now 74 years old, walks out a free man. Moved by his “very advanced’’ age, his physical condition, the prolonged trial (because of his own actions), the responsibility of an unmarried daughter who suffers from heart problems, and his “meritorious service’’, the Supreme Court decides justice would be served if his sentence is reduced to what he has already served.

The SC’s benevolence to ex-Haryana DGP S.P.S. Rathore some weeks ago is mystifying indeed. Just last year, it had rejected the curative petition of a 71-year-old cancer survivor, Zaibunnisa Kazi. Kazi had been sentenced to five years under sections 3 (3) and 6 of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) for the March 12, 1993, Mumbai bomb blasts. When she filed her curative petition, she had served two years.

Drafted by senior counsel Kamini Jaiswal, Kazi’s curative petition was accompanied by a certificate from well-known lawyer Shanti Bhushan, which stated that her conviction was “based on no evidence and suffered from an inherent contradiction’’. Kazi was convicted for knowingly facilitating a terrorist act by storing a bag containing AK-56 rifles. Yet, at the same time, she was acquitted of the charge of possessing AK-56 rifles under the Arms Act.

Like Rathore, the old, ailing convict had faced prolonged legal proceedings — arrested in 1993, convicted in 2006. Unlike the ex-DGP, the delay hadn’t been of her doing. Yet, the top cop walked; Kazi did not. It is not even as if the old woman’s crime ruled out mercy. Neither a bag nor AK-56 rifles were recovered from Kazi’s possession.

The only basis of her conviction was a retracted confession by a co-accused, who had so obviously been tortured that the judge sent him to hospital when he appeared in court. But the more glaring injustice to Kazi was that Bollywood celebrities convicted of deeper involvement in the blasts, had been shown leniency by the Supreme Court.

Just three months before it showed its compassionate side to Rathore, the Supreme Court refused to do so to a 92-year-old convict. Convicted in 1982 for an honour killing, Putti’s conviction and life sentence were upheld by the Allahabad High Court in February this year. He appealed against this judgment, and pleaded that he be exempted from imprisonment, citing his age. The Supreme Court refused to exempt him.

Rathore’s case brings to mind another case where a high-profile accused was granted a light sentence in view of his age. Shiv Sena ex-MP Madhukar Sarpotdar was 72 when he was convicted under section 153 A for having made an inflammatory speech during Mumbai’s post-Babri Masjid demolition riots. The maximum sentence was five years. Fifteen years after his crime, Sarpotdar got just one year and a fine of Rs 5,000. Sarpotdar didn’t spend a moment in jail because he appealed against the conviction. By the time the appeal was heard, he had died. Sarpotdar’s was the only conviction of a senior Shiv Sena leader for the Mumbai riots. Indeed, this was the first time anyone from the party was convicted for hate speech, the party’s trademark.

But the upholding of Rathore’s conviction by the Supreme Court is not a cause for rejoicing. Thanks to the media, everyone knows about the police officer’s vendetta against 14-year-old Ruchika Girhotra and her family; and against Aradhana Parkash, eye-witness to the molestation, and her parents, who pursued the case. Forget abetment to suicide. Just going by the charge against Rathore, can the sentence of a senior police officer who abused his position to molest a schoolgirl be reduced on any ground? Are policemen a special category of criminals?

The writer is a freelance journalist

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  1. A
    Archana Das
    Oct 19, 2016 at 11:00 am
    No faith on Indian judiciary.as an ordinary Indian citizen feels noone to protect us
    Reply
    1. J
      Jayakumar
      Oct 19, 2016 at 12:57 pm
      Many of our judges are paid by the high profile criminals through their high profile corrupt lawyers.
      Reply
      1. R
        Rajat
        Oct 19, 2016 at 1:39 pm
        Good Article. Poignant as well. I feel sorry for us common peeps.
        Reply
        1. S
          Santosh
          Oct 19, 2016 at 10:52 am
          There is no hope from Supreme Court also it also favour upper cl of society. Or sometime show his muscles to fulfill judges personnel ego that they are supreme in the country.
          Reply
          1. K
            K SHESHU
            Oct 19, 2016 at 2:15 pm
            In a nation where gender bias and rich- poor divide plays major role in judicial system, such poignant stories are common
            Reply
            1. A
              A. KHAN
              Oct 19, 2016 at 3:47 am
              50 % of INDIAN legal system is corrupted.
              Reply
              1. A
                Ashok Garg
                Oct 19, 2016 at 3:04 am
                Hon'ble Supreme Court should revisit its decision suo moto and put such a wolf in jail .
                Reply
                1. A
                  A.K.Vasudev
                  Oct 19, 2016 at 12:40 pm
                  Nicely brought out facts in the article. Verdict of the Apex Court came as a shock to me as well.This tells the tale of the judiciary in India, where courts deliver judgments and not justice. lt;br/gt;Just imagine the horror, atrocities and sufferings through which the entire family went through for years. What was their crime? Still they suffered and perpetrator managed to go scot free almost. It really is a shame on our system.
                  Reply
                  1. B
                    Balaji
                    Oct 19, 2016 at 3:08 am
                    SC ,they are not God. Hence they can not be Impartial. We should not expect anything good from them. Yes they will move with their ego only. Only when there is a ego clash then they can give a verdict against the man. But it is very far to happen . A person who feels that the fate lie in their,Court,hand now onward then he will start compromising during the time period gifted to him in the name of trial period. We unnecessarily made them as God forgetting them that they mere mortal human being like any other ordinary human being with all the human qualities of easily bargained , sold, purchased etc.
                    Reply
                    1. C
                      Champa Bai
                      Oct 19, 2016 at 3:36 pm
                      the entire chain is corrupt.....criminals, police, judiciary and politicians......how do u expect justice??????
                      Reply
                      1. B
                        balvinder
                        Oct 19, 2016 at 2:28 am
                        The guilt being upheld'will the govt of the day act as per service rulesandmake him repay all pay perksandawards,It will redeem itself from police inaction during JAT AGITATION by filing a review peion to undo the injustice.
                        Reply
                        1. K
                          Krish
                          Oct 19, 2016 at 11:00 am
                          Is the Goddess of justice is really blind or faking to be a blind?
                          Reply
                          1. D
                            debabrata
                            Oct 19, 2016 at 3:20 am
                            Rotten...rotten ....rotten system.
                            Reply
                            1. S
                              Santano Fernandes
                              Oct 19, 2016 at 10:31 am
                              This police officers, magistrate, Mamlatdars , Judicial officers and judges think that they are a separate cl and all the above rubs one another back and the w system is rigged and poor man with no connection is hared and jailed for even a small crime. This state of our judiciary and our system. Like in the Gulf Countries it is very important to have some section of LAW where the judicial officer has no discretion and the guilty has to be punished as defined in the law. This is the reason crime are increasing as there is no blind justice which shown in the courts symbol but the justice in India is after looking at the person who is guilty.
                              Reply
                              1. K
                                kk
                                Oct 19, 2016 at 11:57 am
                                it is shame and reflects on the supreme court who is corrupt to the core does not care for the commone people this thakur r whatever is his name the present CJI is after government but does not see what is going on under his supervisionlt;br/gt;shame on us alllt;br/gt;the w family suffered but the supreme court is not moved at all about their suffering lt;br/gt;shame on judiciary shame on country lt;br/gt;thanks a lot for writing god bless you
                                Reply
                                1. J
                                  jagar
                                  Oct 19, 2016 at 11:24 am
                                  A blatant case of injustice to the young girl and her family.
                                  Reply
                                  1. K
                                    Karunakumar Khandavalli
                                    Oct 21, 2016 at 11:39 am
                                    The unholy nexus between Judiciary and politicians pampered police, and culprits with political, money backing, is evident. Unseen and unknown God can save India or people themselves should act morally and elect moral people to rule country.
                                    Reply
                                    1. R
                                      Rishi Raj
                                      Oct 19, 2016 at 11:44 am
                                      Judiciary has its limitations. The civil society should act against the high profile child molesters.
                                      Reply
                                      1. H
                                        HILARY
                                        Oct 19, 2016 at 5:43 am
                                        In India, equality before the law and equal treatment of the laws is for the big book, the Consution and not for practice. In one case possessing an ortment of ault weapons including the Kalashnikov is merely an offence under the Arms Act. In another case, keeping a bag handed over by someone which contains a Kalashnikov is an offence under TADA. It is therefore not surprising that the code describes the service of the molester of a minor girl as outstanding service. That is also the grade that was given him by the Haryana government whose Ministers he served faithfully. The Supreme Court is merely following the traditions and precedents that we have set for ourselves in this country.
                                        Reply
                                        1. M
                                          Manish Khanna
                                          Oct 19, 2016 at 7:18 am
                                          It is most unfortunate that Indian sc is a biased insution. See how bail of rich and mighty are heard and granted out of turn by sc. But it is more unfortunate that Indian media has become a coward before sc , more after the hundred crore case on times now. Unless media takes it's role to expose sc , there is no hope in India.
                                          Reply
                                          1. M
                                            Mayur Panghaal
                                            Oct 20, 2016 at 5:22 pm
                                            India is heading for dark days.
                                            Reply
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