The mockery of justice in the Ruchika case, spare a thought for its premier investigating agency. When it files an appeal against the six-month sentence handed down to former Haryana police chief S P S Rathore, the CBI can dare not suggest what is on everybody’s lips: that the trial court should have convicted him not just for molestation (which carries a maximum penalty of two years) but also for the more serious offence of abetment of suicide (which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years).
Thanks to the public outrage over the trial court verdict of December 21, CBI is all set to reverse its stand on whether Rathore, who at 67 is a pale shadow of his former influential avatar, should be prosecuted for abetment of suicide. Since the outrage is focused on Rathore’s culpability, CBI has been lucky to escape questions about its own complicity in shielding him.
Just how blatant was its complicity is evident from the nature of evidence that was available with CBI before it filed the chargesheet in November 2000. Though there was a three-year gap between Ruchika’s molestation and her suicide, the connection between the two was obvious from the manner in which Haryana policemen, acting as Rathore’s goons, had stepped up the harassment of her brother Ashu just before she took the extreme step of consuming poison.
Ashu was picked up by the police on October 23, 1993 in connection with the car theft cases foisted on him. He was still in detention when Ruchika swallowed poison two months later, unable to cope with the way her family was being tormented. By suppressing such a direct link between the harassment and her death, CBI seems to have adopted Rathore’s line while opposing Madhu Prakash’s plea before the trial court for adding the charge of abetment of suicide.
Mercifully, CBI is unlikely to claim any such difficulty in recording Ashu’s testimony now. But the issues thrown up by the Ruchika case go beyond the imperative of trying Rathore for the myriad offences he committed to cover up his crime of molestation. What is equally important is to hold to account all those authorities who shielded him and to make the system more responsive and impartial.
After the trial court framed the abetment of suicide charge despite CBI’s opposition, how could the Punjab and Haryana High Court and Supreme Court set aside that decision? Besides, how could the apex court uphold Rathore’s petition challenging the HC-ordered probe into Ashu’s complaint of being framed in theft cases?
But, are our rulers shamed enough by the Ruchika scandal to loosen their much-abused hold over the police? The law should not leave any culprits even though they are in any high position. Our beloved Prime Minister must take a impartial decision from safe guarding the innocent people from the clutches of Police, Politician’s and Justice.