Former Haryana director general of police SPS Rathore has 'no remorse for the wrong committed by him,' the additional district and sessions judge noted while enhancing the disgraced top cop's prison term to 18 months for molesting teenager Ruchika Girhotra.
In his 103-page judgment on Tuesday, ADSJ Gurbir Singh also observed that "every witness of this case had to face allegations in one form or the other and an attempt was made to catch the witness in a well woven legal web".
The legal battle was between two unequals, the Judge observed while dismissing the appeal filed by 68-year-old Rathore challenging the six month rigorous imprisonment awarded to him, after he was convicted of molesting the 14-year-old budding tennis player.
"Although the convict deserves the maximum punishment which is prescribed for offences under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code, keeping in view the age of the convict, his medical background, his dependent unmarried daughter who is suffering from a congenital heart problem, his meritorious service record and the fact that the convict spent more than 200 dates in court during the trial, I am of the view that the purpose of the law would be met if the convict is awarded the sentence of rigorous imprisonment for 1 years. Otherwise, the faith of the public in the justice delivery system/judiciary would erode," the Judge said.
"There is no dispute that Ruchika committed suicide. A precious life is lost. Thereafter, the departmental enquiry initiated against the convict on the basis of the inquiry report of DGP RR Singh was dropped. The convict got promotions and retired as DGP of Haryana," the Judge noted.
Observing that as a police officer, Rathore's role was to protect the public and as president of the Haryana Lawn Tennis Association, to train young budding players for India, the court said the Rathore failed in both duties by molesting a minor girl. The court said people are afraid to send their minor girls to play due to the presence of such people in the field of sports.
"Due to the activities of such persons, our nation is lagging behind in every sport and citizens of country" feel ashamed after knowing that India has lost again, the judgment said.
"As long as such persons are at the helm of affairs of sports associations, the presence of women in sports activities cannot be increased and real talent cannot be brought forward to represent the country in various sports," the Judge said.
The Judge added, "I have considered the arguments of learned defence counsel that if convict is not released on probation then it may affect his pensionary benefits, but keeping in view the nature and gravity of the offence and the fact that the legal battle was between two unequals, the said contention of learned defence counsel is of no help to the convict."
He further said, "If the convict is released on probation, then it would be a mockery of the justice delivery system. It is a case in which the convict deserves maximum punishment prescribed for the offence under Section 354 of the IPC. The learned trial court fell in error by awarding a rigorous imprisonment of six months to the convict."
Noting that cross examination of Ruchika's friend Aradhana was conducted in 152 pages while that of Anand Parkash, Madhu Parkash, Manish Arora, Naresh Mittal and S C Girhotra was conducted in 26 pages, 124 pages, 40 pages, 62 pages and 152 pages respectively, the Judge said, "Such a lengthy cross-examination of the witnesses prove that they were put on trial and the accused was not facing a trial."
The court did not find any merit in Rathore's contention that he was a victim of a media trial.
"The objection raised by the learned defence counsel that the convict is a victim of a media trial is without any basis. The learned trial court has rightly held that the court has concern with the facts and circumstances which are available on record only and the court is not concerned with the report of any agency about the accused or the victim. So I am of the view that courts are only bound by law and their own judicial conscience.
"Till today, the media cannot influence the decision making process. Indian courts and the Indian judicial system is very strong. If the media is able to influence the judgments of the Indian courts, then there cannot be independence of judiciary," the Judge said, adding that the courts work on the basis of legal evidence available on record. The Judge said that nobody should apprehend that the media trial can influence the decision of the courts.
"For awarding the sentence, the court is to take into consideration the totality of facts," the court said. The court also noted that Ruchika's brother Ashu was arrested in various cases of theft but was acquitted of all charges.
"Since the CBI did not collect any evidence as to why he was implicated in theft cases and what was the reason for his discharge, and at whose instance he was arrested or implicated in the cases, so no comments can be made on this contention of the learned counsel for the complainant and CBI," said the Judge.