High Court orders probe into police harassment charge

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday initiated a suo motu case on the basis of a newspaper report that alleged that a family from Delhi residing in Kochi was being harassed by the police and that they had demanded ₹5 lakh for releasing their two daughters from custody.

Justice Devan Ramachandran directed the District Police Chief (Kochi City) H. Nagaraju to inquire into all aspects mentioned in the report and file a report in a sealed cover in the court. It also directed the commissioner to ensure that the family was not subjected to any harassment or vexation. The court appointed lawyer A.V. Jojo as amicus curiae in the case.

Acting on the orders of the High Court, Mr. Nagaraju ordered a probe. The two girls, one is minor, of the migrant family went missing in August. A team from the Kochi City police traced the girls to Delhi.

“We had initially registered a missing case but later turned it into a case of abduction and rape after it emerged that the older girl was sexually exploited by a man, whom she had acquainted during the train journey, at a lodge in Delhi. During her medical examination in a hospital in Delhi she made the startling revelation to the medical officer that she was sexually abused by her three brothers since she was a minor. Following this, we registered another case under POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act,” said Mr. Nagaraju.

The accused, along with the two girls, was then brought to Kochi after which the brothers were summoned and they allegedly confessed to the crime. The girl’s statement was also recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

“Subsequently, two brothers were produced before the court and remanded while the minor brother was produced before the Juvenile Justice Board. The girls were sent to a child protection home,” said Mr. Nagaraju. The two remain remanded and the bail plea of the older brother remains pending before the court.

Bribery allegations

However, the migrant parents alleged that the police had let off one of the accused who sexually abused their daughter in Delhi and that their sons were booked under bogus cases. They also alleged that an assistant sub inspector then attached to the North police had sought a bribe of ₹5 lakh.

The terms of reference of the probe ordered by Mr. Nagaraju will include these allegations.

“The other man was contacted by the accused for arranging rooms and had no knowledge about anything else. We have arrested everyone there needs to be arrested,” said Mr. Nagaraju.

ASI Vinod Krishna, against whom the parents had raised the allegations, said that the girl had levelled the allegations against the brothers at all relevant places. He said that the girl and the accused were tracked down after hopping through four police station limits in Delhi.

Child Welfare Committee Ernakulam Chairperson Bitty Joseph said that the two girls were given shelter as per the Juvenile Justice Act. “The sisters wanted to be together and are indecisive about returning home. Since the family members are being accused as perpetrators, there are legal impediments to sending them back home,” she said.

Mr. Nagaraju also shot down the allegations that the police had collected the flight fare to Delhi for investigation from the parents.

Meanwhile, the migrant parents reiterated the bribery allegations and said that their boys are being implicated by the police under coercion. An investigation by senior officials will expose the truth, the father said.

The Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has registered a suo motu case. Commission Chairman K.V. Manoj has sought reports from the District Child Protection Officer, North police Station House Officer, and the District Police Chief (Kochi City) by November 3.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 10:07:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/high-court-orders-probe-into-police-harassment-charge/article36994879.ece

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