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Ruchika Girhotra Case- Justice not Denied, But Delayed.

This is the most infamous case of the molestation of a 14-year old girl by the Director-General of Police of Haryana in Chandigarh. The long legal battle of almost two decades was fought by the victim’s family and their family friends. The case is a sheer example of political manipulation by top ministers and bureaucrats in the country, who instead of protecting the rights of the citizens, harass them for their own good.


Facts:

Ruchika Girhotra, a 14-year old girl, in Chandigarh was a trainee at the Haryana Lawn Tennis Association along with her best friend Aradhana Prakash. She was molested by the former DGP of Haryana who was also the President of the Haryana Lawn Tennis Association. Aradhana Prakash was the sole witness of the incident. Agitated by the incident, the parents filed a complaint against S.P.S. Rathore in August 1990. However, no action was taken in spite of the inquiry set up against S.P.S. Rathore.


Harassment by the Accused

Both Ruchika and Aradhana’s family were mercilessly tortured by Rathore and his goons. Ruchika was thrown out of the school by the authorities due to the political pressure built upon the school by Rathore. Ruchika’s father lost his job and Aradhana’s father had to face persecution at his workplace. False cases were registered against Ruchika’s brother, father, Aradhana, and her father. Distressed by the constant persecution faced by the family, Ruchika ended her life in 1993.

Things eventually worsened after her death. Her brother was illegally confined in the jail and tortured physically and mentally for years. Eventually, the family had to leave the city to avoid further harassment, but the struggles continued.


Politics

In 1997, CBI had been directed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana to conduct an inquiry in the matter against Rathore. The charge sheet was filed by CBI under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code, 2 years after the High Court’s order. When the case was heard in a CBI court trial, the offence of Abetment to suicide had been added in the CBI charge sheet. However, the decision was dismissed by the Punjab and Haryana Court, which resulted in no filing of FIR against Rathore.


Finally, Rathore was pronounced guilty under Section 354 of IPC with a punishment of 6-months imprisonment and a fine of 1000 rupees by the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Chandigarh in 2009.

S.P.S. Rathore filed an appeal against the Court’s order before the Court of Additional Sessions Judge, Chandigarh. Aradhana’s family and the CBI also filed an appeal before the Court to increase the sentence for imprisonment. Rathore’s appeal was dismissed whereas, CBI’s appeal had been accepted and the sentence enhanced to 18-months. A revision petition filed by Rathore against the judgment was dismissed by the High Court.


Rathore filed a bail application before the Supreme Court of India which had been accepted. The court was of the view that the sentence of imprisonment must be reduced to six months to the period already undergone. The Case ended, after the Honourable Supreme Court of India delivered its judgment in 2016.

Critical Analysis

It is evident from this case, that politics had indeed, a major role to play to suppress the voices of the innocent. Rathore, being a top bureaucrat, with great political connections, had made complete use of his authority. He left no stones unturned, to harass the families who stood against him. The CBI Judge who included the offence of Abetment of suicide in the CBI charge sheet was forced to retire prematurely. The people who supported Ruchika were tortured and were forced to withdraw the complaint. Her brother was illegally confined and tortured by the accused. His case is still pending before the court, in spite of his repeated claims of being beaten mercilessly in the lockup under false charges. The accused made several attempts to delay the case by filing applications, unnecessary in the case, before the Courts. The Case was repeatedly transferred from one court to the other so that the accused could make use of his networks and pass the orders in his favour.

The thing which perplexed everyone was the fact that the accused had been invited to be honoured in a Republic Day Parade in Chandigarh. He continued to enjoy his position even after a molestation case.


Conclusion

Though the judgment delivered had been in Ruchika’s favour, yet it was not worth the 26-year long battle fought by the family of the victim. After more than 450 hearings, an endless number of complaints, harassment by the accused, and the police, justice was finally served but delayed. Had this been considered earlier, Ruchika would have been alive and life would not have been a battle for the families.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sonam Pradhan is a 1st-year student at Alliance School of Law, Alliance University

They can be contacted at sonampradhan026@gmail.com

LinkedIn ID: www.linkedin.com/in/sonam-pradhan-698226192

Edited by: Arushi Gupta

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