'False Accusations Would Ridicule Serious Crime': Punjab & Haryana HC Issues Directions To Police To Curb 'Menace Of Sextortion'

Aiman J. Chishti

2 March 2024 7:44 AM GMT

  • False Accusations Would Ridicule Serious Crime: Punjab & Haryana HC Issues Directions To Police To Curb Menace Of Sextortion

    Observing that false accusations of sexual assault would ridicule serious crime, "turning it into something frivolous, which can never be the intention of the lawmakers," the Punjab & Haryana High Court issued a slew of directions to the police to curb the "menace of sextortion".In a case where Police Officials were accused of taking a bribe to settle a rape case by "dubious...

    Observing that false accusations of sexual assault would ridicule serious crime, "turning it into something frivolous, which can never be the intention of the lawmakers," the Punjab & Haryana High Court issued a slew of directions to the police to curb the "menace of sextortion".

    In a case where Police Officials were accused of taking a bribe to settle a rape case by "dubious compromise", Justice Anoop Chitkara observed,

    "It is disheartening that our penal laws, which were put in place to protect and defend the survivors of sexual assaults are being used today as a weapon by certain evil-intentioned members of society to extort money from the public for illegal gains or for taking revenge, creating fear in the minds of the targeted people to cause injury to their honour, capitalizing and preying on their fear, vulnerability, and helplessness. This cannot be allowed to go on as it would unravel chaos in the system. It would amount to ridiculing a serious crime like sexual assault, turning it into something frivolous, which can never be the intention of the makers of law."

    The Court added, "How distressing deplorable is the state of affairs when the Investigators, who are the guardians of Law and Order, and the Advocates, who are the officers of Courts, not only allow but also participate in effecting compromises, extortion and accepting bribes and commissions from the alleged accused and suspects, to settle grave allegations like that of rape."

    It further observed that these illegal, unethical, and immoral actions deplete the faith and trust of the entire society and primarily of the real affected victims whose interests are the principal concern of a legal justice system.

    Highlighting the impact of false accusations of sexual assault, the Court observed, that the burden of potentially carrying a tainted reputation for life may cause even a socially well-adjusted human to lose their personality and lose face in front of friends, family, and peers, pushing them towards depression and suicide, putting them under undue financial and emotional strain.

    Thus, knowingly levelling false allegations of such kind can have devastatingly far-reaching ill effects on one's sense of self, relationships, social standing, and financial and psychological well-being, the Court held.

    Directions To Police Authority To "Curb Menace Of Sextortion"

    • The Investigator or supervisory officer, in the cases involving sexual offences, when the complainant or victim resile from their inital versions. must make that report of police proceedings.
    • After that they must immediately send the file to the concerned Superintendent of Police, who shall transfer the investigation to themselves, or to another investigating officer duly monitored by an IPS Officer or Dy. SP.
    • Before filing a cancellation report, the Investigator must verify whether any amount or any consideration. in shape of any valuables or in kind is paid to any official/officer or the complainant/victim by or on behalf of the accused named in the FIR for compromise or for retracting the earlier statements.
    • The supervising officer must inquire whether the complainant/ victim had not received any financial benefits or was not threatened intimidated, or put under duress for such retraction of the initial accusation.
    • If, in the inquiry, the Investigator is able to collect sufficient evidence that the victims or complainant were not under any threat, intimidation or coercion then the concerned public servant must consider initiating proceedings for violation of Section 182 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, as and when the stage comes, following the law, also ensuring that such a complaint does not get barred under limitation prescribed under section 468 of Code of Criminal Procedure. 
    • Suppose they do not proceed to prosecute or take a contrary stand; in such a situation the concerned Superintendent of Police must forward the reasons for not filing the complaint to the Director General of Police, who shall take a final decision, either themselves or by delegating it to any officer of the IPS cadre. Non-compliance to be entered in their service records.

    Furthermore, the court directed DGP Haryana to issue general directions in terms of the order by March 31, to all Superintendent of Police, all officers in charge of Police Stations, and all Station House Officers as and when they find a violation of Section 182 IPC.

    "Such directions aim to secure the interests and welfare of both the survivors of sexual assault so that they are not dominated and highhanded into making illegal compromises. as well as of an alleged accused person. whose truth is yet to be tested and innocent people are not trapped by malicious allegations of sexual assault," said the Court.


    These developments came in response to the anticipatory bail plea filed under Section 438 CrPC by two Police Officials, who were booked under Sections 7, 7A, 13(1) and 13(2) of the Prevention of the Corruption Act and Sections 384, 389, 34 of IPC.

    It was alleged in the FIR, that ASI Savita and SI Rajbir Singh allegedly misused their official positions and conspired with the victim's Advocate, and also allegedly with the victim of rape, to facilitate a compromise between the victim and the accused for Rs. 12 Lacs, out of which the Police officials and the Advocate received Rs. 8 Lacs.

    It was observed that after the accused agreed to pay the money, the victim refused to undergo any medical examination and in her statement recorded under 164 CrPC by the Judicial Magistrate, stated on oath that nothing was done to her.

    After considering the submissions and material placed on record, the Court observed that "This entire case is a disturbingly startling depiction of what a mockery of the criminal justice system is being made of by certain individuals who are taking blatant bribes under the sacrosanct guise of the authority of law."

    The Court noted that based on the victim's statement an SIT was constituted by the Superintendent of Police headed by a DSP and during the investigation allegations made in FIR were found false, and accordingly, a cancellation report was filed.

    It was observed that a perusal of the cancellation report explicitly points out that even the senior others of the level of Deputy SP conducted an investigation and found the allegations false.

    At that time, they were unaware of the conspiracy hatched by ASI Savita, SI/SHO Rajbir Singh and others, the judge noted.

    The Court opined that although the petitioners were not entitled to bail on merits, they were entitled to protection under Article 14 of the Constitution because a similarly placed co-accused Advocate had been granted bail by the Additional Sessions Judge.

    Consequently, on the "grounds of parity" and observing that solely because the petitioners are police officers they cannot be deprived of their fundamental rights to equality, the Court granted them bail.

    Rakesh Nehra, Sr. Advocate with Vikalp Hooda, Advocate for the petitioner (In CRM-M-2524-2024).

    Shivani Jaglan, Advocate for the petitioner (In CRM-M-411-2024).

    R.K. Singla, DAG, Haryana.

    Citation: 2024 LiveLaw (PH) 68

    Title: Savita v. State of Haryana

    Click here to read/download the order

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