Taking suo motu cognisance of media reports about a gang rape victim committing suicide after being denied justice by the police in Patiala district, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday directed the Inspector General of Police to file his report by January 8, when the case comes up for hearing.

The minor girl was kidnapped and raped by three persons on November 13 last.

The incident made headlines and provoked public outrage that despite having contacted the police, it took more than two weeks to register the case. The alleged perpetrators harassed and intimidated the victim as well as her family. The accused have since been arrested, the police station in-charge and the investigating officer dismissed and the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) suspended for dereliction of duty.

Handing down the order, Chief Justice A.K. Sikri said the incident depicted the sordid state of affairs where compelled by adverse circumstances and filled with ignominy, the victim thought that the only course of action left was to end her life.

“The manner in which events are taking place in the last few days were an eye opener. Enough is enough. Some steps have to be taken for reforming all institutions which are there for implementing and enforcing the laws for punishing the culprits in these rape cases,” the court said.

“The primary function, nay, the solemn duty of the police is to protect the citizens and track down criminals. However, when the police start shielding and protecting the culprits and start treating the victims of crime as accused persons, it is a sad day for the democracy of a country governed by the rule of law,” it said.

Rise in crimes against women

Justice Sikri said that though Delhi had already acquired the dubious label of being the “rape capital of the country,” it was ironical that the situation in Punjab was far from satisfactory. “Not only is there upsurge in the crimes against the women generally in the State, the heinous and ghastly crime of rape is also on the rise,” he said emphasising the need to combat “this rape culture.”

The Chief Justice said though laws for punishing such crimes were there on the statue book, it was lack of an adequate enforcement system which contributed to recurrence of such crimes. He called for a revamp and strengthening of the criminal justice system.