The Punjab and Haryana High Court Monday granted interim bail to disgraced former Haryana police chief S.P.S. Rathore in two fresh complaints filed against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the 1990 molestation of teenager Ruchika Girhotra.
Rathore was also given relief in the third case registered against him for allegedly abetting Ruchika’s suicide, three years after the molestation, as the court directed CBI to give him a four-day notice before arresting him.
The interim bail will ensure that Rathore cannot be arrested in the first two cases by the CBI — which is now investigating the molestation case of Ruchika Girhotra and subsequent events over the last 19 years — for three weeks till his anticipatory bail plea is taken up by the high court on Feb 15.
The abetment to suicide case has been referred by high court judge, Justice Sabina, to a division bench. Rathore has sought quashing of this first information report (FIR), along with others, from the court.
Rathore’s counsel had argued that the matter regarding the charge of abetment to suicide had been decided earlier by the high court and the Supreme Court in favour of Rathore and filing the fresh case against him was not right.
The anticipatory bail plea of Rathore will be heard by the court Feb 15 when the CBI files its report in the matter after investigations. Till then, the interim relief will continue for Rathore.
The CBI, which took up the case from the Haryana police earlier January, Monday sought three weeks from the court to complete its investigations. The judge said that since the CBI wanted longer time to complete investigations, it was giving interim relief to Rathore against arrest.
“We at least need three weeks’ time to complete our investigation in the Section 306 case. It is consuming time because it is an old matter and we have to unearth fact and figures from the history,” CBI lawyer Anmol Rattan Sidhu argued in court.
He added: “CBI officials are performing to the best of their ability. Rathore is an influential man and we are afraid that he still can sabotage our investigation process by tampering the evidence and intimidating the witnesses.”
Rathore had filed a plea seeking anticipatory bail in all three fresh FIRs filed against him, first by the Haryana police and later by the CBI, and had sought quashing of these FIRs. His anticipatory bail plea had been rejected by the district and session court in Panchkula, adjoining Chandigarh, Jan 8.
Rathore was booked in the first two FIRs under non-bailable charges like attempt to murder, criminal intimidation, forging evidence, wrongful confinement, fabricating false evidence and criminal conspiracy.
The FIRs were registered following fresh complaints from Ruchika’s father S.C. Girhotra and brother Ashu last month.
A CBI special court here Dec 21 held 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.
Rathore’s conviction in the molestation case had come after over 19 years.