Ruchika case to be re-investigated: Moily

Last Updated 29 December 2009, 15:40 IST

“This could be a model case, where we will have to demonstrate to the entire country that the rule of law is utmost and it will apply to everybody and rule will have to be properly demonstrated - that is the will power of the nation,” Moily told private news channel NDTV Tuesday (Ruchika's 16th death anniversary).

A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Chandigarh had Dec 21 held  former Haryana director general of police S.P.S. Rathore guilty of molesting 14-year-old Ruchika in Panchkula town Aug 12, 1990 and sentenced him to a six-month prison term. Rathore was immediately granted bail. The budding tennis player had committed suicide three years after the incident.

The law minister said that the case seems to have been built on the original molestation complaint by Ruchika. But he felt that the subsequent harassment of Ruchika, her brother and family should be the basis of the probe and trial.
“In fact, the first case was when attempt was made to molest the girl. The case seems to have been built on that basis. But she died. All the harassment made to her, (her) brother, of her (being) taken out from school leading to the death…The right case is under Article 305 (of the Indian Penal Code) which is about abetment of suicide of a minor,” said Moily.

The punishment under Article 305 is a life sentence. Moily said that the authorities who subverted law to favour Rathore may also face charges of abetment to suicide.
“Maybe under (a) new case, under Section 305/306 maybe all the authorities who abetted - the authorities who threw her out of school, harassed the girl or her brother, putting him inside the jail after handcuffing him and confining him for two months…. It will be shown to world that no such offences, no such people abuse their position to subvert  the rule of law,” asserted Moily.

“But in the meanwhile, may be the National Commission for Women can go to Supreme Court. We are all looking into this,” he said.
The minister said there were two options for further investigation. “One is under section 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), an appeal for a higher punishment. Another is under Section 305 or 306, depending on her age, a fresh investigation can be ordered,” said Moily.
The law minister said that learning from the experience in the case, a more stringent law for faster trial for sexual offences will be enforced.

“We have been talking to the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation). I have been talking to the Solicitor General of India. In the long run, we would like to see that rigorous law is enforced, particularly for sexual offences committed by people.
"We are contemplating a Sexual Offences Special Courts' Bill, which will fast track trial within six months or one year,” Moily added.

Probe against Ruchika's school
The Chandigarh administration has initiated a magisterial inquiry into the role of a leading all girls school Sacred Heart here for expelling teenage molestation victim Ruchika Girhotra in September 1990.

Ruchika was expelled from the school for unexplained reasons just a month after she was molested by former Haryana Director General of Police (DGP) S.P.S. Rathore in Aug 12, 1990.

Chandigarh Home Secretary Ram Niwas, who is also the education secretary, has said that an inquiry will be conducted to probe the role of the school management in the expulsion. "I had got the fax message from Madhu Prakash (complainant in the case) yesterday, demanding a fair probe against the school. Therefore I have marked this probe to sub-divisional magistrate (south) and told her to submit the inquiry report to me within seven days," said Niwas on Tuesday.

He added: "The probe will go into all aspects of this issue and will seek answers from the school about why they expelled Ruchika." So far the management of the school, in Sector 26 of this city, has been silent on the expulsion of Ruchika, who was a class 10 student at that time.

At one stage the school had cited non-payment of monthly fees as a reason behind this expulsion. Rathore had used this expulsion to counter the chargesheet against him by claiming that Ruchika had been expelled on moral grounds.
A special CBI court in Chandigarh had held Rathore guilty Dec 21 of molesting Ruchika in Panchkula town Aug 12, 1990 and sentenced him to a six-month prison term. However, Rathore was immediately released on bail. Ruchika, a budding tennis player, committed suicide three years after the incident.

A senior lawyer and a human rights activist Ranjan Lakhanpal is going to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on Tuesday in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, demanding strict action against the school for expelling Ruchika.

(Published 29 December 2009, 05:33 IST)

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