Ruchika case: Unity in uniform

This incident sharply brings into focus the many loopholes in the administration of justice.
On Aug 12, 1990, Ruchika Girhotra, 14-year-old tennis player, was allegedly molested by Rathore, who was at that time the president of Haryana Lawn Tennis Association. Ruchika’s friend Reemu was a witness to this. On Aug 15, Ruchika lodged a complaint against Rathore with the home secretary of Haryana. He in turn asked state DGP R R Singh to conduct an enquiry. In his report dated Sept 3, 1990, Singh concluded that there was truth in the allegation of Ruchika and a criminal case be taken up against Rathore.
Meanwhile, Rathore took retributive action against Ruchika’s family. Ruchika’s brother Ashu was falsely implicated in 11 criminal cases. Ashu was arrested in Oct 1993 and kept in illegal custody for two months. Ruchika was expelled from school. Ruchika committed suicide on Dec 28, 1993.

Elevation
Even after this, nothing happened. Ruchika’s family moved away from Haryana, but Reemu’s parents doggedly pursued the case. Ashu who had been discharged in all the cases, submitted before the court that Rathore had attempted to interfere with the investigation of the suicide case by tampering with records. Ashu also stated that his family was forced to leave Haryana to overcome the harassment. Haryana high court directed registration of a criminal case and asked the CBI to conduct the investigation. By that time Rathore had already risen to the rank of DGP.

Various questions arise here. DGP Singh, after his enquiry concluded that Rathore had molested Ruchika. As the DGP, he could have sent a complaint to the police station and got an FIR registered against Rathore. Instead of that, he merely sent a report to the home department suggesting criminal action. The report gathered dust.
This is not surprising, because in most of the cases fellow bureaucrats try to protect their colleagues who are involved in criminal cases. Even when an agency like CBI seeks sanction to prosecute government officials, such sanction is not given easily.
What is even more surprising is that at the time of the incident, Rathore was of the rank of IG. Even when an enquiry had indicted him, he was promoted to the rank of Additional DG. While he was ADG, an FIR came to be filed against him. Despite that, he got promoted to the next higher rank. Normally, when an enquiry or a criminal case is pending against an officer, he does not get his promotion.

The suicide of Ruchika in 1993 was undoubtedly a result of harassment meted out to her and her family and attracted punishment under section 306 IPC. It is reported that the investigation agency was not in favour of adding this section, the courts tried to add this charge, but later dropped. It is not clear why Rathore was not charged for tampering with the inquest report. He also could have been charged for falsely implicating Ashu.
Rathore appears to have been aided and abetted in his evil designs by his subordinates, by his superiors and colleagues, by the investigators. He was assisted by the legal process which proved that justice delayed is justice denied. The media also remained passive at the initial stages.
The authorities say that they will take a relook at the case. The law ministry says that cases related to women, children and the disabled will now go to fast track courts. It is hoped that at least in future the administration of justice would get some systemic changes.
(The author is Director General of Police, CID and the views expressed are his own)

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