Verdict on molester cop: too little, too late

“Too little, too late.”

The reaction of the National Commission for Women to the six-month jail sentence handed down to former Haryana Police chief S. P. S. Rathore — convicted of sexually molesting Ruchika Girhotra (14) in 1990 — summed up the overall response to the judgment.

A day after the Chandigarh court’s verdict, politicians and women’s groups were outraged that a police officer who’d misused his position to threaten the victim and her family — driving her to suicide in 1993 — had got away “very lightly”.

Rathore (67) was awarded a lighter sentence due to the “prolonged trial” and his age, the Press Trust of India reported. The crime for which he was convicted comes with a maximum punishment of up to two years.

The CBI said it hadn’t decided if it would appeal against the decision. “We will review the judgment and decide,” said an official based in Chandigarh.

Anand Parkash — complainant and father of Aradhana, who saw Rathore molest her friend Ruchika — plans to fight to get the former DGP convicted of abetting Ruchika’s suicide and to expose those who helped delay proceedings.

The matter came up in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday with CPI-M’s Brinda Karat saying: “The criminal... escaped justice for 19 years, was awarded promotion after promotion, while the young girl was traumatized.”

I&B Minister Ambika Soni said: “When custodians of law come under the needle of suspicion, they shouldn’t be promoted.” Rathore, who was IG at the time of the incident, was made ADG and then DGP.

Legal experts blamed the police for lapses but ruled out any major corrective measures.

Supreme Court lawyer K. T. S. Tulsi said the prosecution was negligent. “Rathore's bail should have been cancelled and he should have been tried for misuse of official authority. The punishment, however, is proportionate to the offence. We cannot ask for blood.”

Advocate Geeta Luthra said a re-trial isn’t possible. “The CBI can go in for a fresh case against him and appeal in the higher court.”

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