Ruchika case: Easy on the policeman?
Ruchika Girhotra, a 14-year-old tennis player, was molested by then Haryana police IG S.P.S. Rathore in Panchkula in 1990.
Three years later, Ruchika killed herself, which her friend and case witness Aradhana attributes to the harassment of Ruchika and her family by those in power.
Nineteen years later, Rathore walks away with six months of rigorous imprisonment and a 1000-rupee fine, reportedly due to his old age and the “prolonged trial”.
The victim’s age is not supposed to influence the Indian legal system. The law, however, does make an exception when it concerns rape of minors, like a minimum 10-year sentence for rape of a minor as against a seven-year norm.
But that is not the case with any other form of sexual abuse, apart from rape, which is the domain in which Ruchika’s molestation case falls.
Even so, two years is the maximum punishment but Rathore got only six months in this case and is out on bail. Ironically, age played an important role here. But, again, it was not the victim’s age.
Members of Parliament questioned why Rathore was promoted despite the molestation charges and also asked for reform in the judicial system to ensure timely justice in such cases.
Even during the course of 19 years, Rathore had little to worry about. He continued getting regular promotions and was even made the director general of police.
The question being raised — Why was a case for abetment of suicide not made against Rathore? The quantum of punishment has become the major point of contention in the case verdict.
But, more importantly, the people’s faith in the law enforcers of the country has received a major dent with a guilty policeman being let off with so little.
Reactions to the verdict in the Ruchika Girhotra molestation case and the complainants’ resolve to pursue it further are reminiscent of the Jessica Lall murder case.
NCW chairperson Girija Vyas has written to the Haryana Chief Minister asking the state government to appeal in a higher court. The NCW has also formed a committee of advocates to examine whether there was any attempt to hush up the matter.
If a girl were to find herself in Ruchika’s position, would she able to trust the man she reports the crime to — a policeman?