‘Delhi police conducting an enquiry into the matter’

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Friday said the government would next week take a decision on sending a Presidential Reference to the Supreme Court seeking opinion on the allegations against the former Supreme Court judge A. K. Ganguly.

The Home Ministry has sought a legal opinion on the basis of which a Presidential reference would be made to the Supreme Court for its advisory opinion. Accordingly the apex court will institute an enquiry committee and decide the matter on the basis of its report.

While procedures have been set in motion by the government, Delhi Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi on Friday told The Hindu: “The law of the land is our guiding principle. We are conducting an enquiry into the matter and will initiate appropriate action on the basis of the findings.”

In the absence of a formal complaint by the former law intern who disclosed the purported incident through a web blog nearly 40 days ago, some police officers said registration of a case on the basis of media reports would be of no consequence. “When we first wrote to her, she expressed her unwillingness to join a parallel course of probe saying she was appearing before a committee set up by the Supreme Court. The second time she said she was travelling and would get back after checking her schedule. We have not heard from her since then. How can we register a case under these circumstances?,” said a police officer.

Senior lawyer V.K. Ohri was of the view that the police should register a case. “They can obtain a certified copy of the prima facie indictment by the committee set up by the Supreme Court and register a case suo motu. The police can approach the victim after registration of the case. Statement of the complainant is mandatory only in matrimonial cases, including those under the IPC Section 498A. The police should not bother about the fate of the case at this stage. The worst that might happen is that the case would be closed, there are several cases that get closed every day.”

However, senior lawyer Geeta Luthra said the case should not be registered till the former law intern lodges a complaint with the police. “There is no point registering a case without a statement from the complainant. Secondly, the police should find out whether the content of the statement fulfils the ingredients of the unamended Section 354 [outraging modesty] of the IPC, as the purported incident took place before the amendment was notified. In my opinion, from whatever I know of the case, there is no element of using ‘criminal force’ and therefore, it does not attract the unamended IPC provision,” she added.

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