The district and sessions court here, which on Tuesday enhanced the jail term of the former Haryana Director-General of Police, S.P.S. Rathore in the case of molestation of a 14-year-old girl, termed the six-month imprisonment awarded by the trial court an ‘error.' It denied him bail to avoid making a “mockery of the justice delivery system.”
The 103-page order drafted by additional district and sessions judge Gurbir Singh said: “The convict has shown no remorse for the wrong committed by him… Every witness … had to face allegations in one form or the other, and [an] attempt was made to catch them in a well-woven legal web.”
Coming down heavily on the trial court, Mr. Singh said: “In a case in which the convict deserved the maximum sentence, the trial court erred by awarding rigorous imprisonment of six months. The court was required to minutely consider the conduct of the convict after the occurrence [of the crime] and during the trial of the case.”
Justifying the 18-month RI awarded to Rathore, instead of the maximum of up to two years, the judge said: “The convict deserves the maximum punishment prescribed for the offence under Section 354 of the IPC, but keeping in view the age of the convict, his medical background, his dependent unmarried daughter who suffers from a congenital heart problem, his meritorious service record and the fact that he spent more than 200 days in the court during the trial, the purpose of law will be met if the convict is awarded rigorous imprisonment for one-and-a-half years.”
Battle between unequals
The judge said the nearly 20-year legal battle was between two unequals, and the witnesses were put on trial. “No doubt, every accused has got the right to cross-examine the witness, but no one has got the right to drag the cross-examination to such an extent. Such a lengthy cross-examination of the witnesses proves that they were put on trial, and the accused was not facing trial.” The cross-examination of the main witnesses took several years.
The verdict said: “As a police officer, Rathore's role was to protect the public. As president of the Haryana Lawn Tennis Association, his role was to train budding players for India. But he failed. Due to his behaviour, people are now afraid of sending their girls to playgrounds. Due to such persons, our nation is lagging behind in every sport. As long as such persons are at the helm of sports associations, the participation of women in games cannot be increased, and the real talent cannot be brought up to represent the country.”
The judge denied that media coverage of the case influenced the verdict. “Courts are bound only by the law and their own judicial conscience... Nobody should apprehend that the media trial can influence the decision of the courts.”