This is in continuation to our Ist article on this issue: Law Too Kind To Sexual Offenders
A CBI court in Chandigarh, on December 21, convicted former DGP, S.P.S. Rathore for molesting Ruchika Girhotra while he was the president of the Haryana Lawn tennis association in Panchkula on August 1990. The budding tennis star later committed suicide in 1993. While her family, alleging harassment from the police, was forced to shift out of Panchkula due to prolonged police harassment as 11 false cases were filed against his brother and he had been in prison for 2 months.
He has now been sentenced to a six months imprisonment and a paltry fine of Rs 1000. Within moments of his sentencing, the former top cop gets a bail and now he plans to appeal. As he came out from the temple of justice, both him and his wife were sniggering and shaking hands with lawyers.
Is Travesty of Justice the word for this? Rather it is an insult of the word justice. In India we have a system and law only to suppress the downtrodden. The general masses can only participate in a candle light vigil and the media seems to create tumult, which with time will eventually fade as a more heinous crime comes up, a more recent and a more popular one. A judicial system, which is outdated, over burdened and severely flawed, and a political system filled up with corrupt criminals.
I think this has been the reason why the top cop was smiling because he knows the flaws in our system and he used it well in his favour. Now as he roams freely on bail many questions arise on part of the judiciary, police system, bureaucracy and on the part of the media because this verdict has exposed the gray areas in our socio-political and juridical system. Ours is a society which exposes women to vulnerability. The questions that arise in my mind are –
1. What were the reasons that the judiciary took 19 long years to handle out a sentence?
2. Why did the Haryana high court strike down the charges of culpable suicide? R.R.Singh, who probed the case said, “In this case I am of the considered view that whatever Ruchika, a small girl of 15yrs, had stated about the molestation by S.P.S Rathore is based on true facts. I am of the opinion that a cognizable offense is made, therefore I recommend that a case under appropriate sections of the Indian Penal Code be registered”.
3. Why was a sentence of only six months handed? Our 150 year old law prescribes a maximum of 2 years of imprisonment.
4. We talk of judicial activism, but is this activism? When will our age old law be revamped and given a face lift for the better so that many more Ruchikas can be saved in the future.
5. Until now no action has been taken against the allegations made by the victim’s family about the routine police aggravation but 11 cases were lodged against the victim’s brother leading to criminal misconduct, and none against the judiciary itself. Why so?
6. There have been four different Chief Ministers during this period (19 years) but none one of them took any strict action. Instead, politicians helped him. As former home secretary of Haryana, JK Duggal said, “It was a political interference because at the bureaucratic level we had recommended severe punishment. Both RR Singh and I had recommended it. Then the file was held up with the minister. The quantum of punishment is not justifiable. It should have been much more. The entire family has been harassed. He deserves severe punishment.”
7. Media on its part is really doing well to highlight this issue but for how long will it be able to do it? Because we have seen that it moves easily to current news so as to garner maximum TRPs. Media is also responsible for politicizing the whole case.
It will be interesting to see whether these questions are heard or not.
In the meantime, central government has taken a step and has asked the CBI to appeal against the courts verdict. As this issue is causing an uproar, the Union Law Minister, Veerappa Moily said, “the Government has decided to ‘fast track’ cases related to women, including those involving rape, molestation and dowry.”
This case is a challenge for our country, judiciary and bureaucracy as it proves that rich or the powerful — like Rathore, with their top cop connections, not only get off lightly but are also nominated for a presidents medal and promoted as the top cop of the state.
Where as common citizens bear the full brunt of a legal system seemingly skewed against their favour.
Its high time our system be refurnished, or else face public outrage because sooner or later they will realise that there is no point in candlelight protests and long drawn articles, and the only way left will be taking the law in their own hands or else celebrate silver and golden jubilees of cases in the courts.
Therefore, at this high time, only one thing can be said “Jaago system jaago” or else face the brunt, which I hope does not happen.
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