The Supreme Court on Friday, while upholding the conviction of former DGP of Haryana SPS Rathore in molestation case of tennis player Ruchika Girhotra, accorded relief to him by reducing his sentence from one and half years to the sentence already served.
The Bench comprising Justice V Gopal Gowda and Justice RK Agrawal stated: “Keeping in view the aforementioned factors, especially the old age and physical condition of the appellant-accused, we do not think it expedient to put him back in jail. While we uphold the findings as to the guilt of the appellant-accused, we are of the opinion that the cause of justice would be best sub-served when the sentence of the appellant-accused would be altered to the period already undergone. We, therefore, reduce the sentence of the appellant to the period already undergone by him as a special case considering his very advanced age.”
The unfortunate event took place on August 20, 1990, when a minor and budding tennis player Ruchika Girhotra was allegedly molested by Rathore, then IGP with Haryana Police and president of the Haryana Lawn Tennis Association (HLTA). She was molested in the HLTA office. Thereafter, a case was registered against the accused after due inquiry under Sections 354 IPC at PS Panchkula, Haryana.
Rathore was convicted by a Chandigarh court in December 2009, and sent to jail in June 2010, 22 years after the occurrence of the shameful act.
The conviction was upheld by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, too. He was sentenced to 18-month rigorous imprisonment but was granted bail by the Supreme Court after serving five months of his sentence.
When the event came to light after her parents filed the FIR, Ruchika, who happened to be Rathore’s daughter’s classmate, was expelled from her school on charges of ‘indiscipline’. Ruchika’s family alleged that they were harassed by the Haryana police in the aftermath of the incident. The young girl committed suicide by consuming poison three years after the heinous crime on December 28, 1993.
Relying heavily on the testimony of Aradhana, Ruchika’s friend and dismissing all allegations that the accused was falsely implicated in the case because of personal rivalry, the court observed: ‘By the consistent evidence of Ms. Aradhana (PW-13), the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt the offence committed by the appellant under Section 354 of the IPC. A charge under Section 354 of the IPC is one which is very easy to make and is very difficult to rebut. It is not that on account of alleged enmity between the appellant and Shri Duggal and Shri Ojha, he was falsely implicated. It would, however, be unusual in a conservative society that a woman would be used as a pawn to wreak vengeance.’
Read the Judgment here.