Ruchika case: Easy on the policeman?

December 23, 2009

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”.

Too little, too late, the National Commission for Women (NCW) said in response to the verdict by the special CBI magistrate.

Ruchika case: Easy on the policeman?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.

Those who fought for the victim now want the case reopened and have also sought public support, which is coming in through online fora like a petition and social networking sites.

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.

Vyas says that though Ruchika’s life could not be “compensated“, at least her case could become a “symbol” for future generations.

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?


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It’s not only molestation but the harassment that forced little girl to commit suicide.
This is extremely shocking that accused was promoted while charges were under investigation, our system should be ashamed of such things.
Person holding such high post is expected to be more responsible and it’s understood that how much he would have harassed little girl and her family as there is a smile on his face after conviction.
This dirty fellow should be prosecuted and given harder punishment as he spoiled the reputation and misused his power.

Posted by SVV | Report as abusive

The short answer is NO.

The long answer is a question: What are her options except staying mum which frankly isn’t much of an option.

As a woman should this hypothetical girl NEED to trust a policeman or anyone for that matter before raising this issue, filing a case?

That depends on whether you are the sort who wants to fight injustice or the sort who does a cost benefit analysis and goes in for a compromise.

Both the choices are valid.

If this girl were family what would I suggest? Probably warn her about the consequences taking a stand can have and be supportive.

Easier said than done, of course.

We are all guilty in a manner.

Posted by VipulTripathi | Report as abusive

well i am in favour of Ruchika.
Same happen with Manu sharma case .
Here Police for sake of rape us nothing more.

Posted by nehaneelam | Report as abusive

It is a shame to our system, The judiciary system. Where we talk big in books and does nothing. I am shamed to be part of this this country, As this is not a isolated case. There has been many such examples which came out because of media but still no lesson learned.

Is this a democracy we are targeting? where president is women and a minor girl did not get justice even after her death. We compare ourself with USA, where a president convicted for similar kind of case and that case reached to justice within his tenure. Do you think it is possible in India ?

Our system is biased. We enforced rule based on status of a citizen. I am not able to see where we, The India, is moving after 60 years of democracy.

As a human, how people like SPS rathor faces himself in mirror everyday, how they sleep in night, how they face their family and how their family face him?

Posted by gentle_man | Report as abusive

I am shocked. Time and again this is happening. We have become a mute spectator. How shameless his family members could be? They should have revolted or else now all of them should commit suicide if any shame is still left. People in power if they commit such crime and use all their might to prevent from getting prosecuted, the society has to castrate them. Each and every family member of the accused should introspect and only opportunity for them to come clean is come out and tell the truth and bury the accused alive. Long live Justice………..

Posted by BSALIAN | Report as abusive


Its a matter of shame for the country and then for the state also. We are always updated by our gr8 polticians (so called) through media that all the steps are being taken for the betterment and security. If in our society such type of Antisocial (in the form of DIG also), then where is the Qs of safety & security of the people. What was the fate of Ruchika and her family. Till today they are suffering. Everyone knows about the fact through the media and all against the culprit, but no action yet against the culprit.

I believe this people should be given as life sentence not only for the crime but misusing the power given by govt to serve the public…society.

Let us join hands together to eradicate these type of Antisocial (who have a protective jacket of Social power) from the society so that before talking about outside terrorist, we have to clean up our own people sitting in such levels.

I really request the citizens of India to join hands and to protest against the DIG and see that he deserves the worst sentence for his deeds, as a result good example for others.

Can anyone tell me how many woman Tennis player do India have? I think we just can name a few. If such kind of acts happened, then in future no one will allow there child to undergo such kind of trauma, better not to opt for such things which will not bring any trouble in family or society. Only Sania’s name will be in history, present and future till she last in Indian woman tennis history.

Jai Hind!!!

Posted by Socialist | Report as abusive

There is only one way we can make up for what happened to little Ruchika.

Strip Rathode of all medals pension etc and demand for capital punishment.
Severest possible punishment for staff of school that expelled Ruchika
Miserable politicians including Chauthala be put behind bars.
Declare this as murder committed by criminal policeman Rathode and abetted and shielded by all the shameless politicians like Chauthala and all of them given suitable severe punishment
In memory of this child all cases suppressed by criminal politicians and police be reopened and severe punishment be meted out to these culprits.
Rape committed by any policeman or politician be always declared the rarest of rare case and only capital punishment to these satans who take up job in police and become politicians just so they can commit these shameful evil crimes.
Otherwise we better hang our heads in shame for allowing all these cowardly shameful acts. I hope it does not turn Shine India Shine to Shame India Shame.

Posted by pschitnis | Report as abusive

Our constitution guarantees its citizens Right to life and personal liberty( Art.21) and the Supreme court has gone on to consider this as right to life with dignity, considering the needs of a free rational society. Female molestation is equivalent to an attempt on life with dignity and personal liberty, or we can justifiably say, an attempt on life and personal liberty. In Ruchika’s case , these preplanned successive attempts , by S.P.S. Rathore have finally led to her death. A former Union Minister having consulted a former PrimeMinister , a Senior police officer investigating this case, and the concerned Former Home Secretary of Haryana, under whom Rathore was working, have accepted on television in front of the Nation , that after detailed investigation, Rathore was found guilty, and they have submitted reports in this regard. He has committed this attempt of life, finally causing Ruchika’s death. So this is straight forward case of attempt on life leading to death. This is a violation of Fundamental Rights of a citizen. Where does the question arise for lack of proper provisions being available for penalizing Rathore. This man deserves only a punishment given for attempt on life causing death. Anything less will show a lack of understanding of the spirit of Our Constitution, specially if it is coming from our legal-political system. The minimum requirement to be a judge is to be a rational man first, rather than just a man with rule books in his memory. And no rational man can dismiss this argument. Where is the scope for a second thought.

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19 complete years – and if she would not have committed suicide – her brother might have been killed in a fake encounter – off course he might have been tortured and the family has been threatened.

Estimate the level of trauma which the young girl might have been going through before committing suicide. If she wouldn’t have a profile, she wouldn’t have been noticed either.

And this is a usual practice of Indian police. They kill students in fake encounters, they rape women who can only commit suicide to get their case into notice, they molest girls and even infants.

India is cultivating a race of brutal, licensed criminals on their own hard earned money. More than being thread to any criminal, they are threat to women for being rapists (tell me if you are a commoner – can you trust to leave your sister/daughter/mother at a police station for night for security?)

When will there be a law to dismiss and make the cop a common man once accused until he proves his innocence?

But this is India my friend. It will remain a junkyard and nobody want to organize it – because it will take infinite toil, time, and effort to organize it – unless you start afresh.

Posted by stillNsilent | Report as abusive

Keeping mum is the most often used option since a visit to a police station itself is a stigma.

Even after raising voice no one listens and the helplessness is unbearable, as exemplified by Ruchika’s case.

I am of the view that if everyone thinks that what happened to Ruchika can happen to me them/their girls also, there can be a support in such cases.

Haryana police IG S.P.S. could be big guy and may be immune to rigorous penalties but it is not impossible. People in power protect such criminals and if politicians face a credible threat that they will be out of power next election if such criminals remain protected, there may be some difference. I have no idea what to do with this pathetic slow judiciary. It is easier said than done but using people power and the votes is one way. Sitting mum is no option and mutual support will help this.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

All the crimes committed in the Ruchika case:

1. Molestation.
2. Abbetment to suicide.
3. Unlawful arrest of her brother.
4. Torture of her brother in police custody.
5. Unlawful expulsion of her from school.
6. Bribing of investigation officials in Haryana state police.
7. Bribing of Home minister and Chief Minister.
8. Bribing of CBI officials.
9. Paying goondas to harass Ruchika and her family.
10. Bribing of doctor who conducted autopsy of Ruchika.
11. Attempt to bribe Mr Prakash to with draw.
12. Intimidation of Ruchika, her friend and her friend’s parents to withdraw case.
13. Bribing policemen in Ambala police station to file false cases against Ruchika’s brother.

Unless SPS Rathore is prosecuted for all these crimes, justice will not be done.

Posted by BhaskarMV | Report as abusive

Believe me Rathore will be Possibly freed from all the case’s lodged against him very soon because there is no justice between a common profile and powerful profile.This incident came to light because Ruchika was a tennis player; what about thousands of such case’s that are still pending/happening in suburbs ; who cares about all those poeple, untimately nobody.To outside world india may look like a democratic nation but in reality it is not ; This is a nation friendly for three categories viz Politicians,Cops & Rich ; Justice can only be expected between these category people and for those who can use the influence of these people. As for as a common middle class man is concerned, he has to shut the f..k up and carry on with his daily business even if he or his family member’s gets humiliated/tortured from the above three categories mentioned.
There is nobody to punish these mother f..kers ; Rathore will suffer a severe blow for all his bad deeds one or other day but unfortunately Ruchikas brother or father cannot punish him today
Though our leader’s Dr.Manmohan Singh and Soniya Gandhi are good enough, they cannot see each and every problem that is happening in our country and it is the soul responsibility of the respective politicians within the state to punich the culprits.Just like russian revolution, a non violent revolution must arise in our country against Politicians and officers who are involved in these kind of shameful acts and corruption
Rathore’s family and the entire society must ignore him for his cowardly and shameful act

Jai Hind

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It is obvious that this incident is not isolated. Hundreds of similar stories abound, in varying degrees abound; ranging from molestation to abuse to rape to murder to massive corruption by the officials in positions of trust, politicians (who are more and more just goondas made up to look like leaders). Many of these incidents are public knowledge, yet the guilty are not even prosecuted – who will give evidence and face what Ruchika’s family faced?
There are two questions that should be asked here:
1) Is Rathore the only guilty party here, that we cry “Off with his head”. As BhaskarMV has listed out the offenses involved, are not all the people involved be equally culpable? Did they not contribute equally to Ruchika’s misery? If every “common-man” as opposed to politician, does his job with conscience, would this have happened?
2) How many women who are molested/ abused/ groped everyday? Especially if they live in the cities. Why do they not raise a hue and cry? Is not the response of society to blame the woman and respond by trying to lock her up? Can anything change by just punishing one guilty man? Is not an attitude change long overdue in each and every person who calls himself/ herself a member of our society?

Posted by honestcitizen80 | Report as abusive

Policemen especially IPS have been getting away with incompetence, irresponsible behaviour and total apathy towards the citizens. They seem to think and brazenly act as if they are only answerable to the politicians. Whether it is DIG from Gujarat or Rajasthan or the DGP from Harayana – they all have support of their political masters. It is time the common man wakes up socially boycotts these vultures. NO maids, no electrician, no plumber, no carpenter, no labour, no service agency should work for them. Let us start this movement with RATHORE.

Posted by bc1 | Report as abusive

It really hurts to read about this case and as a common man we are so helpless, we can only watch this injustice happening since decades and yet dont do anything except expressing our anger/frustrations with others.
I am doing the same and am no different, this case will be forgotten over time and would only be remembered and quoted as yet another example when a fresh case surface and we continue to spit our anger through these forums.
Can we all get together (dont know how where when but should not be another forum like this with words) and do something? I really dont know how to make it happen can someone think on these lines ? I am happy to be part of this revolution
Jai Hind

Posted by LokeshKoodly | Report as abusive

Given the fact that the man has been punished it proves he was most certainly guilty – even if it were just a charge of molestation. I have Just two simple questions.

If the accused were a nobody with no position and no influence, would the punishment have been the same?

Is this a reflection on our police, our politicians, our justice system or a reflection of our society and sytem as a whole?

I wonder………..

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

Oh lord…. India leads as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. same is case with my brother. The other party paid huge amounts to both judges and our lawyer and got the judgement in their favour. Girls party is misusing the laws made in favour of them. A beautiful girl is now a days a bliss for the parents. They can maaryy and re-marry and extract money from the boys side…. every aspect has a dark side too…I am happy…I moved out of this country ..least I suffered…but now my parents and brother are suffering. Judge gives the judgement on the basis of papers which my brother never signed( was made to sign on a blank paper by OUR paid lawyer,and this paper was supposed to be used for differnt purpose). my parents are dying a slow death.I HATE INDIAN POLICEMEN AND LAWYERS……GOD SAVE US..AMEN..

Posted by radha28 | Report as abusive

this shows that our system in still physically challenged in the hands of these Hipocrts. there shd surely be a life imprisonment or life sentence for such kind shameful acts.

Posted by nishantsehgal | Report as abusive

the decision should be given in favour of ruchika..

a capital punishment is a small thing for such crimes..criminals like him should be given a much painfull punishment…”the officials should pour acid n his face n let him go through that pain..”…tat would however not be even a part of what a girl goes through..!
such trials should be decided in shorter time periods so make the criminals life worst than hell!…

Posted by jafferina | Report as abusive

I support radha28’s oppinion. The police force in India(especially Kerala), is misused to favour the allies on Police Official’s side. I have also personally become a scape goat in a similar manner. An IPS Officer(who was the then Director of State Womens Commission), tortured to force me out of an arranged alliance. He was backed by a CI, and a DYSP as well. I wanted to save the marriage, but my life and my parent’s life was more dear to me. I was having doubt of whether there were a healthy law and order system prevailing in the state. Realise that just like women harrassment, the other side of the gender is also put to mental and physical torture.

Posted by arkay | Report as abusive

This man should be hanged in pulic prior with a harassment for week in the centre of the street and this kind of punishment should be given for every policemen who misuses his authority

Posted by ashif | Report as abusive

It shows how pathetic the judicial system in our country and how much corruption and politicians weild their influence in the corridors of justice. It is sad that a person who molested and drove a young girl to suicide is not showing an iota of remorse and is trying to escape from the crime. Unfortunately, there are n number of Rathore’s in our Country freely moving around.

Posted by Baruah | Report as abusive

The Ruchika Case is just the tip of an iceberg, the problem underlying is of Himalayan proportion. Once in a while one hears of rape, molestation or misuse of power by policemen in the media. When this occurs people try explaining it away in terms of policemen-politician nexus or the low level of pay and harsh working conditions. But i feel people miss the brutality of the reality in abstracting it to theoretical debate.

In fact if you ask any one in the country who happened to have an encounter with a policeman, it is invariably rude, harsh, insulting and humiliating. People at the best try avoid encountering a policeman. If they encounter one, they beg and bribe their way out. From my own experience, whenever i have encountered a policeman i have felt insulted humiliated and extorted. This mode of working of the policeman i guess is routine. Why do we have to grovel before these people, why can’t they talk politely?

I have tried talking to a few IPS officers here at IIMB, they give the routine justifications ; they say that people do not listen if they are talked to politely or corruption occurs in all government departments, why single out the policemen.I find these justifications untenable because the policemen have been given power and uniform to protect the citizens, not to harass them. Secondly corruption in other govt. deptts cannot be a justification for corruption in policing. Corruption in policing is very grave matter because it impinges on our life, liberty and dignity. Without adequate accountability, the power invariably gets misused.

It is this lack of accountability and impunity that makes even the lowly police constable feel entitled to abuse, molest, extort,torture, rape, murder common citizens. I have rarely seen a policeman pay for the chai/snacks from the roadside vendors or pay for the auto. If one looks and compares what a policeman does and a local goonda does, the only difference would be perhaps the uniform.

The present functioning of policing in India is not in line with India being a democracy, it’s perhaps more like the British Raj or even worse Jungle Raj. They rule the streets, not by trust but by fear!

But why are Indian policemen so brutish? Are they all violent psychopaths. I am quite sure that most of them are normal human beings. But what can explain this apparent contradiction. I think “banality of evil” as elicited by Milgram experiment and Zimbardo experiment demonstrates how it is so easy for normal people in authority to perpetrate extreme cruelty.

Secondly it could be due to the prevailing culture within the police department, that if one is not abusive, violent or feared than one is not a good policeman.

More significantly it is due to the perceived impunity from accountability to the citizens and law that encourages them to act the way they do.

The institutionalization of corruption within the system is also a major driver, a few policemen i interacted in informal social settings talk about the transfer-posting system in which they have to pay bribes to superiors to get posting to lucrative posts (where bribe earning potential is huge). Once a policeman in post they are demanded by their superiors to collect a certain minimum quota of bribes. The proceeds of which is passed up the hierarchy.

Who is responsible for this mess? And what can be done about it? I first put the blame on the higher officers (IPS), it is they who are accountable for the behavior of their subordinates. If the subordinates are acting like goondas, it is their dereliction from duty in appropriately directing their subordinates or they are themselves culpable in putting a blind eye to atrocities of their subordinates for the consideration passed up through the system. Or it may be the reluctance of a non-corrupt officer to not himself accept bribes but keep quiet so as to not “upset the apple cart” and avoid ostracization by their colleagues and superiors.
What can be done about it??

There have been lot of talk about police reforms, but the nature of policing has not changed much. I believe it will be almost impossible to change the police system if it is only done by the insiders, and the accountability for action rests solely within the department.

For the system to change, the initiative should come from civil society. Transparency is the best deterrent to arbitrary behavior. I believe that the present mobile and internet technology can be effectively used to expose arbitrary police behavior. I propose a website where people upload voice and video recorded by common citizens using their mobile phones along with the detailed information about the place of incident. The cases there reported could be forwarded to the respective police department and the local media ( news channel, newspaper) and a status update on the progress of the complaint would be done to ensure action.

Another idea is to conduct citizen surveys every month/year about the perception of police behaviour, number of complaints registered against policemen, the crime rate etc for each area from the lowest level to the state level. The data would be used to rank areas according to best policed to the worst policed. It would then be possible to rank the best policed thana to the best policed state. This system would create positive incentives for improving their performance.

A third idea could be involving civil society volunteers to go accompany the policemen in beats. The presence of an outsider watching them would dramatically improves the politeness of policemen.

I expect that any Police Officer reading this comment would be defensive about the organization. But this is how i an ordinary citizen and i am sure many more citizens perceive the system to be. And perceptions are as important as any tangible improvement.

Posted by amu_iimb | Report as abusive

This is an alarming case to the youth generation…
Though many of us has heard about the incident, but after watching the wonderful show called ‘Crime Patrol’ I came to know about the complete fact.. I feel this is just one among thousands of such cases, which are in fact increasing every day.
But according to my view I don’t think, so called present DGP Rathore is the only punishable person. Since he had powers, he just tried to utilize it in all ways, to save himself. Rather the real culprit is our own build society, which has forced this little girl to quit this battle…
Come forward, we all can contribute against these crimes on our own little ways…
Look around and first at yourself !!
Only you and I, together us can change this world…

Posted by Moumita | Report as abusive

the whole case is crystal clear. rathore is guilty and he deserves imprisonment. everyone knows the truth and none is arguing. we can’t take it lightly taking it as someone’s else matter. today it is ruchika, tomorrow it can be even me or you. this is seriously not done. we need to fight. these people in power can’t be our masters and we can’t simply let us to be their slaves. first of all we need to think that this is our country and ruchika is one amongst us. how can we let her die and waste her and many other lives for RATHORE. he is simply a traitor. we just can’t sit idle. we need to sway him away. we’ll do it all together… common lets b together!!!!!!!…rathore you wait and watch…..its not your kingdom…

Posted by indiamylove | Report as abusive