HC directs ACP to undergo sensitisation programme on crimes against women

The Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court recently directed the Assistant Police Commissioner of Aurangabad city to undergo a sensitisation programme on crimes against women after he developed “cold feet and could not muster the courage to arrest a high-profile politician accused of rape”.

On April 7, a Division Bench of Justices Ravindra Ghuge and B.U. Debadwar was hearing a plea seeking a direction to arrest an accused against whom an FIR was filed under Section 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code. The court was informed that the investigating officer (IO) in the case was Ashlesha Patil, police sub-inspector, who officiated till December 30, 2020. Later, Nishikant Bhujbal, Assistant Police Commissioner, CIDCO Region, Aurangabad city, took over the investigation and filed a B summary report’(filed when the police find the case to be maliciously false) before a magistrate.

Senior advocate Rajendra Deshmukh, appearing for the petitioner, said the victim was issued death threats, resulting in a delay in filing the FIR. Mr. Deshmukh argued that the accused was an active and high-profile politician for the last 15 years and the IO did not have the courage to arrest him.

The Bench said, “We do not find a single convincing and plausible reason as to why the current IO [Mr. Bhujbal], while conducting investigation into a heinous offence punishable under Section 376, refrained from arresting the accused. We are also intrigued by the fact that the first IO, a lady officer, was suddenly removed without any reason within four days and the present IO was appointed. The removal of the first IO is conspicuous.”

The court added, “We have gone through the statement of the accused recorded by the IO, in which he has dropped names of senior national leaders belonging to the Nationalist Congress Party, including a former chief minister, a Member of Parliament and a Member of Legislative Assembly. We cannot ignore the fact that any normal human being, alleged to have committed an offence punishable under Section 376, would have had rushed to the court for seeking anticipatory bail. The accused herein has not filed any application before the competent court.”

The order said instead of relying on the statement of the victim, set out in her complaint as well as her statement before the magistrate, the IO chose to rely on the plea of alibi put forth by the accused. This shows either his insensitivity to the offences committed against women, or he was manipulated by the accused. We find that the IO did not have the courage to touch the accused. He developed cold feet and could not muster courage to arrest him, the Bench added.

“We would be justified in directing the Commissioner of Police, Aurangabad, and the IO to undergo a sensitisation course/programme with regard to crimes against women before he could be called upon to shoulder or be entrusted with the responsibility of investigating into crimes against women,” the court said.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 1:59:38 AM |

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