Declining anticipatory bail to former Haryana police chief S.P.S. Rathore in fresh cases registered against him, a court in Panchkula town Friday observed that Rathore’s crime had a “spine-chilling” and “hair raising” impact. The decision means Rathore could now be arrested any time.
Additional district and sessions judge Sanjeev Jindal, while dismissing Rathore’s anticipatory bail plea, said: “The applicant-accused cannot be entitled to the concession of anticipatory bail, especially in the circumstances when specific allegations in categorical terms have been leveled in both the FIRs.”
“Serious non-bailable offences on his (Rathore) part not only prick the conscience of a common man, but also cast a spine-chilling and hair-raising impact on one’s psyche relating to the alleged inhuman torture meted out to the complainants at the diktat and behest of the applicant-accused on account of his alleged political clout and high official position in the official machinery of the state,” the court observed.
Rathore moved the bail pleas against two fresh First Information Reports (FIRs), in the Ruchika Girhotra’s molestation case, which were registered Dec 29.
The judge said: “Applicant accused being an IPS (Indian Police Service) officer had held high official positions throughout his service, including DGP (director general of police) of the state and had a considerable political clout, the possibility of tampering with the evidence and intimidating the witnesses directly or indirectly cannot be ruled out.”
Referring to allegations levelled against the media by Rathore’s wife and counsel Abha Rathore, the judge said counsel for the accused “lambasted the media by saying that the media has assumed the role of prosecutor and judge as well and wants to publicly hang the applicant-accused”.
“As a fourth pillar of democracy, the role and importance of the media cannot be denied or undermined, and further that in certain other cases, the media has come to the forefront to aid and help the most deprived and down-trodden segments of the society in a bid to protect them from the atrocities and high handedness of the system of the country and in order to secure justice for them,” he observed.
Rathore was booked under non-bailable charges like attempt to murder, criminal intimidation, forging evidence, wrongful confinement, fabricating false evidence and criminal conspiracy.
He got interim relief Jan 1 from the court till Friday on his bail plea in the matter pertaining to the two new FIRs registered against him.
The court also rejected the anticipatory bail plea of another Haryana police official, Sewa Singh, a sub-inspector posted at Pinjore near here, who also has been accused of implicating Ruchika’s brother Ashu in false cases of car theft, allegedly at Rathore’s behest.
Sources in the Haryana police said after the court order that the state DGP and senior home department officials could now consult Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda before arresting Rathore.
The Haryana police, through the state government, have already recommended to the central government that the fresh cases, including a third FIR charging Rathore of abetment to suicide of Ruchika, be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for investigation.
“I am happy and I have hope that justice will be done. We want him arrested immediately,” Ruchika’s friend Aradhana, whose family fought the case against Rathore for over 19 years, said after the bail plea was rejected.
Aradhana alleged that state officials had already been supporting Rathore in the past and that she did not have much faith in the state machinery to take action against him.
“The CBI is a more independent agency and I hope they will be able to investigate the matter properly,” Aradhana added.
Rathore’s counsel said after the dismissal of the bail plea that they would move the high court to seek relief.
Ruchika, a teenaged budding tennis player, was molested by Rathore, then an inspector general of police, in Panchkula Aug 12, 1990. Three years later, Ruchika committed suicide.
Nineteen years after the molestation incident, Rathore was convicted by a CBI special court here Dec 21 and sentenced to six months’ rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1,000.
The light conviction led to uproar in different sections of society, forcing authorities to re-visit the case and seek justice for the molestation victim.
A magisterial inquiry by the Chandigarh administration Thursday indicted Ruchika’s school, Sacred Heart sSchool, and its principal for her expulsion on the flimsy grounds of non-payment of fee in 1990, just after her molestation incident.
Many other students, including Rathore’s daughter Priyanjali who was Ruchika’s classmate, who too similarly defaulted in fee payments were not expelled or subjected to any disciplinary action, the magisterial inquiry revealed.