Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
News Updates

How Will You Restore Her Confidence In Police & Humanity?: Kerala High Court Asks State On Pink Police Officer Harassing Minor

Hannah M Varghese
6 Dec 2021 12:31 PM GMT
How Will You Restore Her Confidence In Police & Humanity?: Kerala High Court Asks State On Pink Police Officer Harassing Minor
x

The Kerala High Court on Monday directed the State government to explain what it proposed to do for the 8-year-old girl who was mortified by a pink police officer in public, accusing her of theft.Justice Devan Ramachandran observed:"I'm very concerned about the child. The visuals of the crying child have left an indelible mark on my mind. Maybe the officer did not intend to hurt her, but I...

The Kerala High Court on Monday directed the State government to explain what it proposed to do for the 8-year-old girl who was mortified by a pink police officer in public, accusing her of theft.

Justice Devan Ramachandran observed:

"I'm very concerned about the child. The visuals of the crying child have left an indelible mark on my mind. Maybe the officer did not intend to hurt her, but I want to see how the State has taken note of this. What does the State propose to do for the child to restore her confidence in humanity and police?"

This is with reference to a video of the incident which was played in the courtroom during the last hearing of the case in which the girl can be seen crying standing next to her father while the Pink Police officer blocked their way and continued to question them. 

The allegation against the officer was that she rushed to the girl and her father, yelling at the duo to return her mobile phone, which according to her, was stealthily removed by them.

When they denied any involvement in the incident, she is accused of having humiliated them with 'coloured remarks' and 'disparaging comments'.

While reading the statement given by the girl, the Court could not help but mention the innocence of the child. The fact that she had referred to the officer as 'police aunty' moved the Court to believe that she had no spite whatsoever towards the said officer.

"There is not a sentence in the statement accusing the 4th respondent (the Pink Police Officer) of anything. This statement has left me with a heavy heart. It reflects her innocence. She has not even mentioned that she cried during the incident. All she has said is that the officer asserted that she had seen her father take the mobile phone from the police car and give it to her. Accusing a minor girl, this is uncharitable. I don't have any reasons to disbelieve the child," the Judge orally remarked. 

In its order, the Bench stated: 

"One deposition that caught my single attention is one of the petitioner herself wherein in the most innocent manner as one would ascribe to a child of her age, she says that the officer whom she refers to as 'aunty' asked her if she had taken the phone from her father. She says that he did not do so and that that police officer kept saying openly that she saw her father taking the phone from the car." 

Additional Public Prosecutor O. Narayanan submitted the report of the State Police Chief today in a sealed cover before the Court. In the said report, it was stated that the girl started crying when a crowd gathered around them to ridicule the officer, and not when the officer approached them.

However, the Court outrightly rejected this argument:

"Absolutely wrong. I saw when the girl started crying. She was crying from the very beginning of the video; she was evidently terrified. This is where the cover-up starts. Khaki will always go in favour of the khaki. The officer was just drunk on power at the moment."

In the report, the DGP had mentioned that the responsible officer had been transferred from Thiruvanathapuram to Kollam and was now working in a non-uniformed post. It was added that she was directed to undergo 'behavioural training'

To this, the Court asked Narayanan to explain what behavioural training meant. "Is it the training given to remind them to behave like human beings?"

The report also stated that the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act will not be attracted, contrary to the directions issued by the Child Rights Commission. This is in light of the fact that the Commission had issued a directive to take action against the officer under section 75 of the Act on 12.10.21.

The Court inquired as to why the JJ Act would not apply and if so, which law would apply to the incident. The Judge while observing that provision of IPC would apply at the least, noted that the report was silent on this aspect perhaps in an attempt to defend the officer. 

As such, the Bench opined that the report ought to have been more empathetic rather than making extremely generalised averments.

Meanwhile, Advocate S. Rajeev appearing for the said officer produced her application before the Court where she 'wholeheartedly apologised' to the child. According to her, the father of the child had hidden a cigarette behind him as soon as he saw her and this led her to presume that he had taken her phone. 

In the said application, it was mentioned that she was the mother of three minor children and hails from a rather disadvantaged background herself. It was also mentioned that her husband had lost his job abroad but was unable to return to India and that she was responsible for taking care of her family, including an aged mother-in-law. 

The Single Judge empathised with the officer while clarifying that this in no way justified her actions which were reiterated to be 'horrendous' and 'insensitive'.

The Court suggested that the State Police Chief may have been attempting to defend the officer considering her background while simultaneously remarking that this was not a justification at all. 

It was further observed that action against the police officer was up to the respondents to decide and that the Court will not step into this domain: 

"All I want to know is that the child will be taken care of by the State. She has a brilliant future ahead of her, I want to make sure she is not scarred for life."

Advocate A.K. Preetha appearing for the petitioner pointed out a statement from an independent witness where it was stated that the police officer threatened to search the girl for the mobile phone and that she started crying as soon as this threat was posed. The Court asked how a police officer could even dream of searching a child.

The Court thereby assured the petitioner's counsel that relief would be granted to the petitioner child:

"If this girl does not get justice from this court, where is she going to get it from? She has gone knocking at every Commission before coming here."

The Counsel also made available a record of the child's psychological evaluation under the aegis of the Child Rights Commission. The report contained endorsements that the child was fearful on account of a 'stressful event' involved in this case.

Since the report of the mental health centre was not legible, the Court summoned the doctor who treated the girl to be present online for the next hearing to get inputs from him.  

It was also noted that the apology offered by the officer to the child certainly was welcome but it is for her and her parents to decide if this is sufficient. 

The matter will be taken up again on 15th December.  

Next Story