Police not to arrest Rathore 'hastily' despite criticism
Panchkula (Haryana): Haryana Police has been pulled up for delaying action in the Ruchika Girhotra molestation case but police officials say they did not want to arrest former top cop SPS Rathore "hastily" despite a Panchkula court having dismissed his anticipatory bail pleas.
"Our investigation is still under process and we are looking into all aspects of the case before arresting anybody. We cannot do things hastily in this matter and we are busy collecting evidence pertaining to these FIRs," Superintendent of Police (Panchkula) Maneesh Chaudhary said here Saturday.
Senior police officials said they have recommended the fresh First Information Reports (FIRs) against Rathore be sent to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), so there was no point seeking his interrogation in custody.
"The CBI can take over this case in the next few days and we do not want to do anything that might sabotage their investigation process," Chaudhary said.
Declining anticipatory bail to Rathore in fresh cases registered against him, additional district and sessions judge Sanjeev Jindal had Friday observed his crime had a "spine-chilling" impact.
Rathore was on December 21 convicted of molesting teenager Ruchika 19 years back and sentenced to six months' rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1,000.
Jindal had also pulled up the state government, specifically the police, for their lackadaisical attitude.
"Conduct of the state of Haryana in not filing the reply to the present bail applications and seeking adjournment even after availing six-day time cannot be held anything else except baffling and disgusting," the judge said Friday.
"It gives a clear cut impression that either the law officers and police officers of the state are incompetent or they are intentionally dilly-dallying the matter under the buckling pressure of the applicant-accused, who had been stated to be mighty police officer having political clout," he observed.
The public prosecutor had on Thursday demanded adjournment of the case, seeking sufficient time for collection of evidence.
The court said that in view of the allegations levelled in both the FIRs, it was the state's duty to oppose both the bail applications and to seek custodial interrogation of the accused.
"The criminal conspiracies were not hatched sitting in the drawing rooms in the presence of the witnesses so the same can be unearthed only through the custodial interrogation of the accused," the judge wrote.
Rathore had moved the bail pleas against two fresh FIRs in the Ruchika Girhotra molestation case, which were registered December 29.
Rathore was booked under non-bailable charges like attempt to murder, criminal intimidation, forging evidence, wrongful confinement, fabricating false evidence and criminal conspiracy.
The court also pulled up the police for registering the FIRs under Section 467 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)
"They went ahead in registering both the FIRs under the provision of section 467 of IPC, which primarily relates to forgery of a document relating to monetary transaction, valuable security and wills. Thus the conduct in this respect becomes deplorable and as such, is hereby condemned by the court in the strongest possible terms."
Pankaj Bhardwaj, the lawyer who has been fighting Ruchika's case, also criticised the delay in Rathore's arrest.
"Custodial interrogation of the accused is very necessary to find out the involvement of other officials who shielded Rathore for the last 19 years in this case," Bhardwaj said Saturday.
"By seeking three weeks' time for collecting evidence, the state is adopting delaying tactics and they are working in connivance with the accused," he added.
Ruchika's friend Aradhana, whose family fought the case against Rathore for over 19 years, said: "State officials were supporting Rathore in the past and I still doubt their intentions. But we are hopeful of a fair probe by CBI and we all want to see Rathore behind bars at the earliest."
Ruchika, a teenaged budding tennis player, was molested by Rathore, then an inspector general of police, in Panchkula August 12, 1990. She committed suicide three years later.