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'A Sordid Saga Of Torment & Harassment': Kerala High Court Seeks Expeditious Action Over Bribery Allegations Against Police

Hannah M Varghese
18 Nov 2021 5:45 AM GMT
A Sordid Saga Of Torment & Harassment: Kerala High Court Seeks Expeditious Action Over Bribery Allegations Against Police
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The case pertained to demand of bribe for the release of two girls from a children's home to their parents.

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday posed further questions in a case where the Assistant Sub Inspector of Police (ASI) was accused of demanding bribe for the release of two girls from a children's home to their parents. The case was registered suo motu on the basis of a news report. Justice Devan Ramachandran refused to close the case despite being informed that the girls were...

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday posed further questions in a case where the Assistant Sub Inspector of Police (ASI) was accused of demanding bribe for the release of two girls from a children's home to their parents. The case was registered suo motu on the basis of a news report.  

Justice Devan Ramachandran refused to close the case despite being informed that the girls were reunited with their parents. 

"People's faith in the judiciary is sinking. We hear things like 'what does the High Court do other than talk' from people. Of course, the general public doesn't know the limitations of my jurisdiction; for them, this is an all-powerful institution. So I will not let this go easily. I believe in my constitutional oath and intend to keep this pending for some time. I want full information. I hope you understand my resolve," the Judge said.  

Director-General of Prosecution T.A Shaji produced a statement on record that the bribery allegations were unsubstantiated and uncorroborated due to inconsistencies in the statement given by the mother. In this report, it was mentioned that the mother had not revealed the demand for bribe raised by the ASI to her own husband for over 45 days after the incident, which raised eyebrows regarding the genuineness of her allegations. 

The DGP also submitted a sealed document with an action-taken report on allegations against the police officers.

Sympathising with the plight of the family, the Court stated that it has to stand in the shoes of victims to understand the plight that they go through and that it cannot scrutinize the matter with 'mathematical exactitude and precise dates and times from a mother who must have been terrified at the time'. 

"As regards the conclusion in the report that the allegation of the mother against the Assistant Sub-Inspector of Police of demanding bribe is unsubstantiated, I am afraid that this court cannot grant favour to it fully as I'm certain that the totality of the allegations which entail a sordid saga of torment and harassment to the victims and family will have to be taken into account because the allegation of a bribe can generally not be proved through direct evidence but only through circumstantial ones."

At the same time, the Bench clarified:

"I am not saying that the entire police force is on the wrong. I have nothing against the police. I myself sleep comfortably at night knowing that the police is protecting me. There are certain individuals in the police force who are wrong. So if you find a rotten apple amongst them, you have to deal with him like a rotten apple and not like a healthy one, that is all I'm saying."

The Court also inquired as to how five police officers managed to leave the State without having informed the Controlling Officer. 

The Court also recorded its appreciation that the Kochi Commissioner of Police had taken action against five police officers including an Assistant Sub-Inspector of Police under the provisions of the Kerala Departmental Enquiry Punishment and Appeal Rules, 1958 and that they have been issued show-cause memos, and called it a welcome step. 

However, care needs to be taken to ensure that it concludes in the manner as is mandated in law, without any avoidable delay, the Judge added.

The matter will be taken up next on December 2, 2021.

Background:

According to the Mathrubhumi newspaper, a Delhi couple, who migrated to Kochi 11 years ago, alleged that the Kochi police demanded Rs. 5 lakh from them for the release of their daughters.

The two daughters had gone missing reportedly after falling prey to cybercrime through which the eldest daughter's alleged online boyfriend convinced her to leave her home.

Consequently, the sisters had gone to Delhi without their parents' knowledge. Upon finding that their daughters were missing, a complaint was immediately lodged with the Kochi police.

The police upon preliminary enquiry found that the girls were in Delhi. The parents soon flew to Delhi and continued their search.

They were further asked to finance the air tickets and accommodation for a five-member investigation team from the Kerala Police.

The Police traced the girls to be with two men Faizen and Subair. Upon examination, it was revealed that the duo had raped the elder daughter.

Accordingly, Subair was arrested by the Kerala police, and the girls were taken into their custody. They failed to arrest the second accused; instead, they took in the three brothers of the victim.

Accordingly, the girls were housed at a Children's Home. When the parents requested for their daughters to be released, the ASI allegedly demanded Rs. 5 lakhs from them.

Case Title: Suo Motu vs. State of Kerala

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