In January this year, a sessions court here pronounced its verdict in a case where the Delhi Police did not register an FIR in a rape case and instead forced the minor victim and her family to compromise with the rapist.

While sentencing the rapist to eight years’ imprisonment, the court rapped the police and ordered it to pay Rs.25,000 as compensation to the victim. The court also suggested that Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar recover the amount from the salaries of the erring police officers.

Delays by the police in registering FIRs have often been a bone of contention between the prosecution and the defence during criminal trials. Defence lawyers use the delay to argue that the accused was falsely implicated in the case. Inordinate delay in registering FIRs also deprives the prosecution of forensic evidence such as semen samples, forcing the court to rely entirely on the victim’s testimony.

The sessions court’s judgment in January and allegations of police apathy by the family of the five-year-old who was brutally raped earlier this week in East Delhi show the police in a bad light. In both instances, the complaints were made by poor people unaware of their rights and unable to fight for them.

The 13-year-old girl was raped by a neighbour in his jhuggi on the night of November 27, 2011. The very next day her parents took her along to the police post at JPN Hospital of IP Estate police station. The family testified that the policemen warned them that if an FIR was registered they would have to take the victim into custody and she would be jailed for seven years. This scared the parents. Subsequently, the police also got them to sign on blank papers and a compromise deed was registered. The rapist was also summoned and asked to sign on it.

When the girl’s grandmother came to know about the compromise, she berated her daughter-in-law, took the victim along to the DCP’s office and thereafter an FIR was registered. The girl was finally subjected to a medical examination on December 12. By then, the examination could not detect any semen samples, though the hymen was found to be torn. What nailed the role of the police in attempting to bury the case, was the compromise deed that was brought on the court record.

In his order, Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Pawan Kumar Jain said: “Such unscrupulous police officials are not only required to be identified but stern action is also required against such erring police officials…Under Section 154 Cr.P.C., the police is under obligation to lodge an FIR if the information relates to the commission of a cognisable offence...Such victims are required to be dealt with in a cordial atmosphere but instead of helping the victim and her family, the police had multiplied their trauma many fold by not lodging the FIR.”

Similarly, the Delhi High Court had directed the police to pay a cost of Rs.2 lakh in 2011 to the family of a murder victim for not registering an FIR in the case.

In March this year, a widow who for 18 years doggedly pursued the case against her rapist, a Sub-Inspector of the Delhi Police, despite other police officers frustrating her attempts for justice, first by not registering a case and later doing a shoddy probe only to absolve him, has found closure with ASJ Virender Bhat sentencing the now 70-year-old retired policeman to 10 years imprisonment.

In a judgment in December last, Mr. Bhat sentenced the husband and in-laws of a murdered woman to life imprisonment. The judgment also demanded action against a police officer who did not register an FIR for over two months after her death.

More In: Delhi