How can you seek exemption from surrendering? Madras HC asks former special DGP Rajesh Das

Justice M. Dhandapani says law is equal for all; no special privilege can be extended just because the convict happens to be a former police officer  

Updated - April 16, 2024 07:08 am IST

Published - April 16, 2024 01:06 am IST - CHENNAI

The Madras High Court on Monday wondered how former special Director General of Police (DGP) Rajesh Das can seek exemption from surrendering despite a trial court as well as an appellate court having found him guilty of making sexual advances towards a woman Indian Police Service (IPS) officer.

Justice M. Dhandapani raised the query during the hearing of a criminal revision petition filed by the convict challenging his conviction as well as three year sentence imposed by Villupuram Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) on June 16, 2023 and confirmed by the Principal District Court on February 12, 2024.

Along with the revision petition, he had filed two sub applications - one seeking exemption from surrendering before the CJM until the disposal of the revision plea and another seeking suspension of the sentence and consequently granting him bail until the disposal of the revision petition by the High Court.

The judge said that the plea for suspension of sentence could always be considered if the convict surrenders and undergoes imprisonment for a few days but wondered how the convict could seek exemption from surrendering and not want to go to jail even for a single day despite concurrent findings against him by two courts below.

“Many a times, false cases are foisted against the poor and they get imprisoned for months together. How fair is it for the petitioner to claim a privilege and say that he will not got to prison even for a day? Isn’t it audacious? Everyone is equal before this court. Why should special treatment be given to this petitioner?” he asked.

Answering the queries, Senior Counsel R. John Sathyan said, it was because his client had become a victim of a conspiracy and the entire case against him had been fabricated. Unfortunately, the courts below had failed to appreciate the angle of conspiracy and utter lack of evidence to convict the petitioner, he said.

He said, the alleged sexual advance had been made when the petitioner and the complainant were travelling in a car on official duty in February 2021. On the same day, the woman officer had lodged a complaint and followed it up with two more complaints. However, no FIR was registered on the basis of those complaints.

“The FIR was booked on the fourth complaint lodged after three days. Your Lordship may note that she was working under the petitioner for long and had no complaints then. It may also be noted that the then DGP/Head of Police Force had an animosity against the petitioner after the latter became special DGP,” Mr. Sathyan said.

He said, the prosecution had relied upon printouts of some screenshots supposedly taken from mobile phones of the complainant, her husband who is an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer and the then DGP/HoPF to prove the case filed against the petitioner but those phones were not produced before trial court.

“All the three prosecution witnesses gave lame reasons for not producing their mobile phones. One said, the screenshots got deleted from the phone, another said the phone fell into water and the third said, the phone got lost. This is the standard of evidence available against the petitioner,” the senior counsel said.

Stating that he was confident of the conviction getting set aside by the High Court, Mr. Sathyan said, great prejudice would be caused to the petitioner if he was forced to go to jail before the disposal of the revision plea. The counsel also relied upon a Bombay High Court verdict exempting a convict from surrendering.

On his part, Additional Public Prosecutor R. Muniyapparaj vehemently objected the plea for exemption from surrendering as well as for suspension of sentence. However, on finding that the prosecution had filed a counter affidavit only to the exemption application, the judge adjourned the matter to Wednesday for filing counter to the plea for suspension of sentence too.

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