Civil Procedure Code (CPC)

SPS Rathore Vs CBI & Anr Criminal Appeal No 2126 Of 2010: The Accused Was Convicted Guilty Of Molestation Of A Girl Who Later Committed Suicide, But His Sentence Was Reduced


Court :
The Honourable Supreme Court of India

Brief :
The Court reduced the appellant's sentence to the time he had already served as an exceptional instance due to his senior age, and they upheld the appellant's conviction under Section 354 of the IPC while adjusting the punishment to the time he had previously served. The appeal is dismissed on the criteria stated above.

Citation :


DATE OF JUDGMENT: 
23/09/2016

JUDGE: 
Hon’ble Mr. Justice R.K. Agrawal

PARTIES:
S.P.S.Rathore (Petitioner)
C.B.I & An(Respondent)

SUMMARY

The current case involves the molestation of a girl, who later committed suicide, and the accused was found guilty, but his sentence was reduced by the Supreme Court. He had only served six months in prison and will not have to serve any more.

Brief

The current case involves the molestation of a girl, who later committed suicide, and the accused was found guilty, but his sentence was reduced by the Supreme Court. He had only served six months in prison and will not have to serve any more.

Background Facts

Ms. Ruchika, daughter of Shri S.C. Girhotra, and Ms. Aradhana @ Reemu, daughter of Shri Anand Prakash and Madhu Prakash (the complainant), both residents of Panchkula, both enlisted as members of the HLTA at the age of roughly 15 years. They were excellent friends and used to go to the tennis court together for practise. The appellant-accused was a frequent visitor to the said tennis court.

When Ms. Ruchika informed the appellant-accused of her plans to travel abroad, the appellant-accused met with her father, Shri S.C. Girhotra, on August 11, 1990, to persuade him not to send his daughter out of the country for specialised tennis coaching, promising that special coaching would be arranged for her at HLTA itself and also asking him to send Ruchika to his office on the very next day. Shri Girhotra notified his daughter, Ruchika, of the situation and invited her to visit the appellant-accused at his office on August 12, 1990.

Ms. Ruchika went to Ms. Aradhana's house on 12.08.1990 and informed her of the appellant-visit accused's and that he had summoned her to his office. Paltoo-the ball picker reported Ms. Ruchika that the appellant-accused had summoned her to his office when they were both practising tennis. As a result, Ms. Ruchika and Ms. Aradhana went to meet the appellant-accused, who happened to be standing outside the office at the moment.

They were compelled to enter the office by the appellant-accused. Both of the females went into the office at his request. Ms. Aradhana was seated in one of the appellant-chairs, accused's and Ms. Ruchika stood on Ms. Aradhana's right side, while the appellant-accused sat in his chair on the opposite side of the table. Ms. Aradhana was asked by the appellant-accused to contact Mr. Thomas, the Coach. As a result, Ms. Aradhana exited the office, leaving the appellant-accused and Ms. Ruchika alone. Ms. Aradhana requested that the person who brought her the chair at the office contact the Coach to come to the appellant-office. accused's The Coach, on the other hand, refused to come.

When Ms. Aradhana arrived to the office, she saw Ms. Ruchika being held in the grip of the appellant-accused, who was holding one hand of Ruchika in his palm and the other hand around her waist. Ruchika was attempting to push the appellant-accused back with her free hand as he pulled her towards his chest to embrace her.

Fearful of Ms. Aradhana (PW-13), the appellant-accused released Ms. Ruchika and collapsed in his chair. Ms. Aradhana was instructed by the appellant-accused to leave his room and personally bring the coach with her. Ruchika was ordered to stay in the appellant-room, accused's but she managed to flee. When Aradhana was ready to approach Ruchika from behind, the appellant-accused told her, "Ask her to calm down, I'll do whatever she says." After hearing this, Ms. Aradhana followed Ms. Ruchika behind her to inquire about the situation. Ruchika then proceeded to tell her the entire storey. After some deliberation, both girls chose not to inform their parents because the appellant-accused, as IG of Police, may implicate or harass them and their parents.

Ms. Ruchika and Ms. Aradhana went to the lawn tennis court at around 4:30 p.m. on August 14, 1990, instead of their customary time, to avoid the appellant-accused, who frequented the court in the evening. At approximately 6:30 p.m., Mr. Paltoo, the ball picker, stepped out of the court and informed Ms. Ruchika that the appellant-accused had summoned her to his office. Ms. Ruchika, on the other hand, declined to meet him and told Ms. Aradhana that because they had not informed their parents about the appellant-misdeeds accused's on August 12, 1990, the appellant-accused felt emboldened and had summoned her to his office to molest her again. Following that, they both decided to tell their parents about the events that occurred on August 12, 1990. As a result, Ruchika told her father, Shri S. C. Girhotra, about the occurrence of her molestation at the hands of the appellant-accused. In addition, Ms. Aradhana's parents were informed about the occurrence.

When Shri S.C. Girhotra learned of this, he assembled the inhabitants of the area, most of whom were parents of trainee boys and girls, and took them to the HLTA office to visit the appellant-accused, but they were told that the appellant-accused had already gone for Chandigarh. Ms. Ruchika, Ms. Aradhana, Mr. Anand Prakash, and Ms. Madhu Prakash—Ms. Aradhana's father and mother—presented a Memorandum/petition to the then Secretary (Home), Haryana, on 15.08.1990. The then-DGP was asked to initiate an enquiry into the accusations brought against the appellant-accused in the Memorandum/petition after the consent of the Home Minister, Shri R.R. Singh.

Shri R.R. Singh concluded that the allegation of molestation is based on true facts and that a cognizable case is made out against the appellant-accused under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 after conducting an investigation into the incident and forwarded his investigation report dated 03.09.1990 to the Secretary (Home), Government of Haryana.

During the investigation, it was also discovered that Ms. Ruchika restricted herself to her home following the incidence of molestation. She later committed herself by eating poison on December 28, 1993, and died on December 29, 1993.

The Legal Division of the Government of Haryana investigated Shri R.R. Singh's investigation report in 1990 and 1992, recommending the filing of a case against the appellant-accused. Madhu Prakash, the complainant/Respondent No. 2 in this case, requested the registration of a case from several agencies in the Government of Haryana, but no action was taken, therefore she filed a Criminal Writ Petition No. 1694 of 1997 before the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The High Court, in an order dated August 21, 1998, directed the Superintendent of Police, Panchkula, to hand over the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) once the case was registered.

By ruling dated 14.12.1999, this Court upheld the order of the High Court dated 21.08.1998 that resulted in the registration of a First Information Report (FIR) No. 516 of 1999 against the appellant-accused under Sections 354 and 509 of the IPC at PS Panchkula, Haryana.

The CBI filed a charge-sheet under Section 354 of the IPC before the Court of Special Judicial Magistrate, CBI, Ambala on November 16, 2000. The CBI filed a plea under Section 473 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, asking the Court of Special Judicial Magistrate to excuse the delay in filing the charge sheet and to take cognizance, which was granted by his decision dated 05.12.2000. The appellant-accused, who was aggrieved by the judgement dated 05.12.2000, filed Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 46381 of 2000 in the High Court, challenging the condonation of delay. The petition was dismissed by the High Court on April 18, 2001, with a direction to the trial court to resolve the case within six months.

A petition was also made for the insertion of Section 306 IPC to the charge sheet, which was granted by a Trial Court judgement dated October 23, 2001. The appellant-accused filed Criminal Misc. Petition No. 44607-M/2011 before the High Court after being aggrieved by the judgement dated October 23, 2001. The High Court, in an order dated 12.02.2002, overturned the Trial Court's order of 23.10.2001. In an appeal, this Court upheld the High Court's order of February 12, 2002.

By judgement and decision dated 21.12.2009 in Challan No. 3/17-11-2000, 12 T/10.04.2006 RBT191/17-11-2009, the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Chandigarh, found the appellant-accused guilty of an offence under Section 354 of the IPC and sentenced him to six months of RI and a fine of Rs. 1,000/-. The appellant-accused filed a Criminal Appeal No. 5 of 12.01.2010 with the Court of Additional Sessions Judge, Chandigarh, after being aggrieved by the decision and decree dated 21.12.2009. The CBI and Madhu Prakash, Respondent No. 2 in this case, also filed Criminal Appeals Nos. 26 of 12.01.2010 and 22 on 05.02.2010 with the Court for enhancement of sentence.

Additional Session Information By his order dated 25.05.2010, Judge Chandigarh dismissed the appellant-appeal accused's while allowing the CBI and Madhu Prakash's appeals for inadequacy of the sentence and enhancement of the sentence of imprisonment, and the appellant-accused was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for one and a half years for committing an offence under Section 354 of the IPC. The fine sentence stayed the same.

The appellant-accused filed Criminal Revision No. 1558 of 2010 before the High Court after being aggrieved by the judgement and decree of May 25, 2010. The appeal filed by the appellant-accused was dismissed by the High Court in a ruling dated September 1, 2010.

The appellant-accused, who is dissatisfied with the above-mentioned ruling, has filed this motion for special leave in this Court. By ruling dated November 11, 2010, this Court granted the appellant-bail accused's petition.

Apex Court’s Observation and Decision

The High Court correctly held that adverse inference against the prosecution can be drawn only if the prosecution withholds certain evidence and not simply because it fails to obtain certain evidence, as evidenced by the non-examination of two important site witnesses, Shri Paltoo-the ball picker and Shri T.Thomas-the Coach. The Apex Court was also believed that they were unrelated to the actual commission of the crime, and that even in their absence, the appellant-commission accused of the crime of molestation is well established by the unimpeachable evidence of the eye witness (PW-13) to the incident.

A set number of witnesses is not required to prove a particular fact. It is the quality of the witnesses, not the quantity, that counts. Evidence is weighed rather than tallied. Maintaining conviction requires only the testimony of a single eye witness who is truthful, consistent, and inspiring trust. It is not required for the prosecution to question everyone who was there at the scene in order to establish the accused's guilt. Even if other witnesses present nearby were not questioned, the testimony of eyewitnesses could not be disregarded.

Following the foregoing discussion, the court concluded that Ms. Aradhana (PW-13) withstood her testimony from beginning to end, and her deposition was found to be reliable and corroborative with other prosecution witnesses, and that both the lower courts were correct in upholding the appellant-conviction accused under Section 354 of the IPC.

In defending the appellant-sentence, accused learned senior counsel on his behalf has cited several mitigating factors, including the appellant-advanced accused's age, health problems, responsibility for caring for an unmarried daughter with congenital heart disease, previous meritorious service, and the length of the trial. They don't believe it is appropriate to re-incarcerate the appellant-accused due to the aforementioned considerations, particularly his age and physical condition.

They reduced the appellant's sentence to the time he had already served as an exceptional instance due to his senior age, and they upheld the appellant's conviction under Section 354 of the IPC while adjusting the punishment to the time he had previously served. The appeal is dismissed on the criteria stated above.

Conclusion 

In the present case, the court observed that on the basis of several mitigating factors, including the appellant-advanced accused's age, health problems, responsibility for caring for an unmarried daughter with congenital heart disease, previous meritorious service, and the length of the trial, they don't believe it is appropriate to re-incarcerate the appellant-accused due to the aforementioned considerations, particularly his age and physical condition. Thus reduced the appellant's sentence to the time he had already served as an exceptional instance due to his senior age, and they upheld the appellant's conviction under Section 354 of the IPC while adjusting the punishment to the time he had previously served. The appeal is dismissed on the criteria stated above.

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Shreya Taneja
on 16 June 2021
Published in Others
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