Intern, Legal Angles Patna
Name of Case: Ruchika Girhotra Case
Popular Name: Ms. Ruchika, Ms. Aradhana, Mr. S. P. S. Rathore, Mr. Anand Prakash & Mrs. Madhu Prakash
Basic Facts: On 11.08.90, accused went to Ms. Ruchika house and requested her father to not send her abroad & he would arrange special coaching for her. Further he asked him to send his daughter to meet him on 12.08.90 at his office.
On 12.08.90, Ms. Ruchika is molested by Mr. S. P. S. Rathore when she went to met him in office with Ms. Aradhana, informed by the ball-picker Paltoo, while they were playing tennis at court.
When accused asked her to fetch Coach Mr. Thomas, she asked Paltoo to fetch him, Coach denied to come at that moment. When Ms. Aradhana went back to office to inform him and saw accused molesting the Ms. Ruchika, who backed off after seeing Ms. Aradhana in office. Accused rudely ordered Aradhana to fetch the coach personally during that Ruchika went out off the room. Ms. Aradhana followed her when accused told her “Ask her to cool down, I will do whatever she will say”. Thereafter, she followed Ms. Ruchika, when she reached Ruchika wept loudly & narrated her whole story.
Accused being a higher officer in police department, the two girls decided to be quiet and not tell her family. On 14.08.1990 the girls went to play tennis in other timing than their usual timing at 6:30pm Paltoo came and informed that accused want to meet Ruchika in his office to which she denied and decided with Aradhana to disclose the matter to their parents after hearing it they decided to meet accused to went to Chandigarh for some work.
On 15.08.90, they filed a memorandum against accused and send it copies to different higher authorities. After which Home Minister appointed Mr R.R.Singh to investigate & report the case. On 03.09.30, he enquired and found the fact was true and suggested to file a case under provision of IPC. After that no actions were taken.
After investigation on 28.12.93 Ruchika confined herself in her house and committed suicide but on 29.12.93 she died. Enquiry was examined by Legal Division of the Government of Haryana in 1990 & 1992, which recommended registration of case. Mrs. Madhu Prakash filed a Criminal Writ Petition before Punjab & Haryana High Court as no action was taken.
On 21.08.98, High Court ordered superintendent of police to hand over investigation to CBI & same shall be conducted by an officer not below DIG rank, which was investigated & accused was proved guilty with 6 months of imprisonment & Rs 1000 fine.
On 12.01.2010 in Chandigarh Court accused and prosecution filed a appeal for revision & enhancement of sentence respectively. Accused appeal was denied & Prosecution appeal was accepted and the sentence was enhanced by 1.5 years & the fine remained same.
Accused filed Revision appeal on Supreme court where he was found guilty on Sep 23, 2016, but no imprisonment was given it was believed he served the time for his offence and he was released.
Sections/Articles/Acts & Statutes involved: Section 354, 306 & 509 of Indian Penal Code, Section 473 of Criminal Procedure Code & Section 157 of Evidence Act.
Name of the Advocate: Adv. Of accused is Shri K. V. Viswanathan, Adv. Of CBI is Ms. Vibha Datta Makhija & Adv. Of Mrs. Madhu Prakash is Shri Vikas Mehta.
Name of the Judge: V. Gopala Gowda & R. K. Agrawal, JJ.
Question of Law Involved: The quantum of punishment has become the major point of contention in the case of verdict, when the maximum case is 2 years he was sentence 1.5 years maximum. Why a case for abetment of suicide was not made?
Notable Argument: 1) Accused contended that knowing the situation of HLTA & presence of number of people such act would be impossible knowing well it can be seen by others.
2) Accused contended that prosecution story is false & frivolous & that he was framed with ulterior motive. The memorandum was drafted false with intention of people including some police officer of State of Haryana.
3) Accused contended name of other player who accompanied the two girls are not mentioned. Ms. Aradhana has been implanted as “Sathi Khiladi” on purpose of introducing eye witness of choice. It was further said that Ms. Ruchika Signature was false & forged & the document cannot be relied upon.
4) Accused contended document doesn’t disclose detail of incident & just suggested that accused misbehaved with Ms. Ruchika which doesn’t attract Sec 357 of IPC. Further no FIR was filed with Ms. Ruchika, her father, her brother or Ms. Aradhana, her parents because of this undue & unexplained delay resulted in manipulations & proper version couldn’t be put forth before court.
5) Accused contended enquiry conducted by R.R.Singh was without jurisdiction, as accused was on deputation with BBMB & was not under administration of Government of Haryana. Further IAS lobby was entirely against accused, he pointed rivalry between two tennis associations.
Decision of the Court: The Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate held the appellant accused guilty of offence U/S 354 of IPC & sentenced him for 6 months & fine of Rs 1000.
Addition Session Judge, Chandigarh after prosecution appeal for enhancement of sentence, awarded 1.5 years of imprisonment for offence U/S 354 of IPC & fine is unchanged.
Supreme Court reduced the sentence of the appellant to the period already undergone by him considering his advance age & for justice to be best-served.