The Maharashtra government has informed the Bombay High Court that it has initiated an inquiry against erring police officers for merely recording the statement of an accused in a rape case and letting him go without taking action.
A deputy commissioner of police is conducting the probe against the erring officers on the orders of the court. Public prosecutor D A Nalawade submitted that he was hopeful that the inquiry would be taken to its logical end. He also gave an assurance that during the period when the erring officers are facing inquiry, they would not be entrusted with the investigation of offences against women.
Hearing a bail plea of accused Rasik Maru, the court noted that a woman had complained that she was raped by him. However, police recorded his statement but did not arrest him. Not just this, a document purported to be signed by the complainant was taken on record by police which said that it was not rape but consensual sex.
The victim alleged in her complaint that the police authorities were misusing their powers and recorded statement of accused and exonerated him at the threshold.
Counsel for the complainant, Prafulla Shah alleged that she was called to Andheri police station for four hours and mentally harassed by police. "It is a pathetic situation that police officers are least concerned with the complaints made by women in distress. It is due to their action that the women would not have faith in police machinery and therefore, most of the genuine cases are not reported to the police," observed Justice SS Jadhav.
"It is a sorry state of affairs that when government issues a circular directing the police authorities to call the accused and the complainant in a case registered under section 498A (cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code, the police officers do not call upon the concerned parties," said the judge. "In the present case, when complaint is filed under section 376(rape) of IPC, the police, including women police, have called upon the accused and recorded his statement as if they want to reconcile the dispute between the accused and the complainant and coerce the latter to withdraw her complaint," the judge observed in her order last week.
The court had ordered the Commissioner of Police to personally look into the inquiry of this case, registered at Andheri Police Station on June 25 this year year, and take necessary action against the erring officers. The court asked the police chief to make sure that the action was not taken only to satisfy the court that they have made some attempt to enquire into the conduct of police officers but also to take the inquiry to its logical end. "It is necessary to instill faith in women, that their complaints would be inquired into, in accordance with law," said the judge.
The accused, who is the vice president of Kantinagar Jain Temple, had surrendered on October 1 at Andheri police station. He contended that the husband of the informant who is the temple's secretary, was instrumental in prosecuting him. The complainant and her husband had made a representation to Assistant Commissioner of Police Pradeep Sonavane on August 17 this year. However, no action was taken on their complaint. Later, a separate representation was made to the Commissioner of Police on September 11 this year.
ACP Sonavane, who was present in the court, admitted that there has been a mess in investigation of this offence. He contended that it was at his behest that the crime was registered against the accused. Even sub-inspector Raisa Shaikh was present in the court and she too admitted that the complainant had approached the police station in August last year and that she had referred the case to police inspector Bhalerao. However, no action was taken by Bhalerao, she told the court. Assistant police inspector Valunj was also present in the court but he did not answer as to why he had summoned the accused on August 26, 2012, and recorded his statement under section 161 of CrPc, the judge noted in her order.
"API Valunj has taken it (statement of accused) as a gospel truth and has in his own powers released the accused as if it was a bailable offence," said the judge. "It is necessary to hold an enquiry of all the officers concerned including PI Bhalerao, Sr PI Valunj, Sr PI Pradeep Gosavi and PSI Raisa Shaikh", the judge ruled.
"The DCP shall also hold an inquiry in respect of the application dated 17th August, 2013 and dated 11th September, 2013, wherein signature of the complainant is forged on a typed written statement revealing therein that the complainant had consensual sex with the accused and that she had accompanied him to various sites," the judge noted.
The matter has been adjourned to October 29.