People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIII

No. 52

December 27, 2009

RUCHIKA CASE

 

AIDWA Demands Retrial of Guilty Officer

 

THROUGH a statement issued from New Delhi on December 23, the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) has expressed its sense of shock and deep dismay at the manner in which the criminal justice system of our country handled the molestation case of a minor girl, Ruchika Girhotra. It also involved trivialisation of the crime as reflected in the six month sentence handed out to the former DGP of Haryana, S P S Rathore, after 19 long years.

The AIDWA is of the opinion that the case highlights the serious infirmities in our justice delivery system and in the sexual assault law relating to minors. It also shows how influential people can manipulate the system to deny justice. Ruchika, a young girl aged 14, had been molested by the then IG of Police, S P S Rathore, 19 years back in August 1990. Subsequently, when Ruchika lodged a complaint about this incident, she along with her friend Aradhana and their families were harassed and intimidated by threats through phone calls and other means. Their freedom to move was severely restricted. False cases were also lodged against Ruchika’s brother. It has been reported that Ruchika committed suicide as she couldn’t bear the trauma and harassment. Ruchika’s family was forced to move out of Chandigarh because of the harassment by the police.

Finally, the CBI took over the case after eight years, in 1998, but did not file any charges against the persons who were harassing Ruchika and intimidating her, her friends and her family. Nor did the CBI file a case against Rathore for abetment to suicide. After 19 years and 40 adjournments, the court pronounced Rathore guilty under Section 354 IPC (molestation) but sentenced him to only six months imprisonment and an insignificant fine of Rs 1,000. The court held that Rathore’s age and the delay in deciding the case justified the small sentence. The AIDWA statement asserted that Rathore’s age could not be a factor in mitigating the length of the punishment as he is not that old. It is ironic that though the delay was allegedly caused by the delaying tactics of the accused, he was given the benefit of this very delay. The court should have considered the fact that this was a case in which a minor had been molested and the molester was a supposed guardian of law. The court in fact should have awarded the sentence of two years which, in any case, is the maximum sentence under Section 354 of the IPC.

The AIDWA has therefore demanded that the case must be reopened and charges of abetment to suicide, criminal intimidation and filing false cases levelled against the accused. It has also demanded that all cases of rape and sexual assault should be decided in a time bound manner and no case should take more than one year in any event. The law should also provide for counselling and rehabilitation of the victims to lessen the trauma.

The AIDWA has further demanded that the law relating to molestation and sexual assault must be immediately amended, and harsher and minimum punishments be provided under the law. The law should also differentiate between a major woman and a minor child. The AIDWA has been raising the demand from the previous UPA government that molestation and other forms of sexual assault of minors must be treated as more serious types of sexual assaults and harsher punishments must be provided for these in the law. It has also asked for extensive changes in the procedural laws relating to all these types of sexual assaults to make the law more sensitive to women and minors. However, these demands have been ignored by the government. It is relevant to mention that even the Law Commission has suggested extensive changes to the rape/sexual assault laws but no action has been taken on the 172nd report of the Law Commission either.

 

DEMAND FROM

HARYANA CPI(M)

The Haryana state unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has described the conviction of former Haryana DGP, S P S Rathore, in the Ruchika molestation case as justice coming “too little, too late.” On December 23, Inderjit Singh, the party’s state secretary, stated in a statement from Rohtak that the state government must move the High Court with an appeal for enhancement of the punishment. He wondered how the culprit could have escaped with so light punishment for his responsibility in forcing the deceased girl, Ruchika, to end her life.

The party has wholeheartedly commended the efforts of Ruchiks’s parents, Anand Prakash and Madhu Prasad, who had been tirelessly working for dispensation of justice. It is gratifying that, against all odds, the parents of Ruchika’s friends ultimately succeeded in holding Rathore guilty. Women’s and students’ organisations had joined hands with this couple with to register public protest against the crime.

The Haryana CPI(M) has demanded that the law enforcement machinery must draw proper lessons from this case and safeguard with all seriousness the dignity and security of the vulnerable sections, of women and girls.