10 Dec 2021 6:44 AM GMT
The Kerala High Court on Thursday appointed two amici curiae in a case where the Assistant Sub Inspector of Police (ASI) is accused of demanding a 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 was distressed by the fact that the victim's family was made to finance the to and...
The Kerala High Court on Thursday appointed two amici curiae in a case where the Assistant Sub Inspector of Police (ASI) is accused of demanding a 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 was distressed by the fact that the victim's family was made to finance the to and fro air tickets and accommodation for the investigating officers who went to Delhi in search of the missing girls and enquired if a criminal investigation could be initiated against these officers for extortion.
To this, Additional Public Prosecutor P. Narayanan responded that there was a technical issue pertaining to this since even in cases of cognisable offences, an FIR can only be initiated when the aggrieved party institutes a complaint regarding the same, which was absent in the present case.
Accordingly, the Court appointed Advocates S. Rajeev and A.V. Jojo as amici curiae in the matter to explore this ambit of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). Notably, Advocate V. Jojo was the one who brought the information of the news item to the Court's notice at the first instance.
When the matter was taken up today, the report of the Commissioner of Police was produced before the Court as per its earlier directions. In the report, the Court found that the Commissioner had unequivocally stated that police officers involved had not availed the railway warrant or the travel allowance they were entitled to. On the contrary, they travelled at the expense of the victim's family.
The Commissioner also reported that the Assistant Sub-Inspector in question obtained around Rs.17,000 from one of the victims and used the amount for boarding and lodging for himself and the officers.
Although the report assured that all the amounts will be returned or reimbursed, the Court posed the question of whether the action of police officers required a criminal investigation to be launched by registering an FIR against them.
As such, the amici curiae were appointed to see if based on the contents of the Commissioner of Police an FIR can be launched against the police officers mentioned. The Registry was directed to serve the copies of the relevant materials in the case except for ones produced in a sealed cover.
The Court added:
"Needless to say, the disciplinary action against the officers shall be continued and concluded without any delay."
The matter will be taken up again in the first week of January.
Before concluding, the Court also pondered over the larger implications involved in this case. The Judge noted that if the police officers had taken the train to Delhi it would have taken them more than 3 days by which time it would have been impossible to trace the girls.
The Bench noted that perhaps if not for the flight, the girls may have not have been found at all. As such, it opined that the government should immediately consider providing flights to investigating officers in case of such urgent cases.
"We are living in a time when money is scarce. Not all police officers may be able to afford to and fro flight tickets to Delhi. The officers ought to have been given a flight."
The Court added that this was not in any way justification for the officers to make the victim's family fund their travel.
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 three-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. Therefore, 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.
Also Read: 'A Sordid Saga Of Torment & Harassment': Kerala High Court Seeks Expeditious Action Over Bribery Allegations Against Police
Case Title: Suo Motu vs. State of Kerala