(1.) This appeal has been filed against the judgment and order dated 01.09.2010 passed by the High Court of Punjab
and Haryana at Chandigarh in Criminal Revision No. 1558 of
2010 whereby learned single Judge of the High Court dismissed the revision petition filed by the appellant herein.
(2.) Brief facts:
(a) SPS Rathore -the appellant -accused, a member of the prestigious service of the country, was on deputation with Bhakhra Beas Management Board (BBMB), Chandigarh as Director (Vigilance and Security) at the relevant time. He also founded the Haryana Lawn Tennis Association (HLTA) in the year 1988.
(b) The office of HLTA was established in the garage of House No. 469, Sector 6, Panchkula, an under construction building owned by the appellant -accused which was divided into three portions wherein front portion was being used as the office of HLTA and the other two portions were being utilized by T. Thomas and Kuldeep Singh, Coach and Manager respectively of the Association for residential purposes. HLTA enrolled several member players who were mostly nearby residents of Panchkula on payment of monthly subscription.
(c) Ms. Ruchika (since deceased), daughter of Shri S.C. Girhotra and Ms. Aradhana @ Reemu, daughter of Shri Anand Prakash and Madhu Prakash (the complainant), both aged about 15 years, residents of Panchkula got themselves enrolled as members of the HLTA. Both of them were good friends and used to go together for practice at the Tennis court. The appellant -accused was also a frequent visitor to the said Tennis court. One day, when Ms. Ruchika informed the appellant -accused about her plan to go abroad, the appellant -accused met her father -Shri S.C. Girhotra on 11.08.1990 in order to persuade him to not to send his daughter out of the country for specialized tennis coaching and promised that special coaching would be arranged for her at HLTA itself and also asked him to send Ruchika to his office on the very next day in connection with the same. Shri Girhotra informed the same to his daughter -Ruchika and asked her to meet the appellant -accused in his office on 12.08.1990.
(d) On 12.08.1990, Ms. Ruchika visited the house of Ms. Aradhana and told her about the visit of the appellant -accused to her house and also that he had called her in his office. When both of them were practicing in the tennis court, Paltoo -the ball picker, informed Ms. Ruchika that the appellant -accused had called her in his office. Accordingly, Ms. Ruchika along with Ms. Aradhana went to meet the appellant -accused who was standing outside the office at that particular point of time. The appellant -accused insisted them to come inside the office. On his insistence, both the girls went inside the office. The appellant -accused got fetched one chair which was occupied by Ms. Aradhana and Ms. Ruchika kept standing on the right side of Ms. Aradhana while the appellant -accused sat in his chair which was on the other side of the table. The appellant -accused requested Ms. Aradhana to call for Mr. Thomas -the Coach. Accordingly, Ms. Aradhana went outside leaving behind the appellant -accused and Ms. Ruchika in the office. Ms. Aradhana asked the person who fetched the chair for her in the office to inform the Coach to come to the office of the appellant -accused. However, the Coach refused to come.
(e) Immediately thereafter, when Ms. Aradhana returned to the office, she witnessed that Ms. Ruchika was in the grip of the appellant -accused, who was holding one hand of Ruchika in his hand and his other hand was around her waist. The appellant -accused was pulling her towards his chest so as to embrace her and Ruchika was trying to push him back with her free hand.
(f) On seeing Ms. Aradhana (PW -13), the appellant -accused got frightened and released Ms. Ruchika and fell on his chair. The appellant -accused asked Ms. Aradhana to go out of his room again and personally bring the coach with her. The appellant -accused insisted Ruchika to stay in his room, but she somehow managed to escape. When Aradhana was about to go behind Ruchika, the appellant -accused told her "Ask her to cool down, I will do whatever she will say". After listening to this, Ms. Aradhana also ran behind Ms. Ruchika to enquire about the matter. Thereafter, Ruchika narrated the whole incident to her. After discussion, both the girls decided not to inform the same to their parents as the appellant -accused, being IG of Police, could involve or harass them and their parents.
(g) On 14.08.1990, Ms. Ruchika along with Ms. Aradhana went to the lawn tennis court at about 4:30 p.m., instead of their usual timing, in order to avoid the appellant -accused, who used to visit the court in the evening. When both the girls were about to return, at about 6:30 p.m., Mr. Paltoo -the ball picker, came out of the court and told Ms. Ruchika that the appellant -accused had called her in his office. However, Ms. Ruchika refused to meet him and pointed out to Ms. Aradhana that since they had not informed their parents about the mis -behaviour of the appellant -accused on 12.08.1990, the appellant -accused was feeling emboldened and had again called her to his office with a view to molest her. Thereafter, both of them decided to disclose the incident that took place on 12.08.1990 to their respective parents. Accordingly, Ruchika narrated the incident of her molestation at the hands of the appellant -accused to her father, Shri S. C. Girhotra. Also, the parents of Ms. Aradhana were made aware of the entire incident.
(h) On hearing this, Shri S.C. Girhotra, gathered the residents of the locality, who were mostly parents of trainee boys and girls, and they went to the HLTA office to meet the appellant -accused but they were informed that the appellant -accused had already left for Chandigarh. On 15.08.1990, a Memorandum/petition, duly signed by Ms. Ruchika, Ms. Aradhana, Mr. Anand Prakash and Ms. Madhu Prakash -father and mother of Ms. Aradhana, was presented to the then Secretary (Home), Haryana. After the approval of the Home Minister, Shri R.R. Singh, the then DGP was directed to hold an inquiry into the allegations leveled against the appellant -accused in the Memorandum/petition.
(i) After conducting the enquiry into the incident, Shri R.R. Singh concluded that the allegation of molestation is based on true facts and a cognizable case is made out against the appellant -accused under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (in short 'the IPC') and forwarded his enquiry report dated 03.09.1990 to the Secretary (Home), Government of Haryana.
(j) During investigation it was also revealed that after the incident of molestation, Ms. Ruchika confined herself in her house. Later, on 28.12.1993, she committed suicide by consuming poison and died on 29.12.1993.
(k) The enquiry report by Shri R.R. Singh was examined by the Legal Division of the Government of Haryana in 1990 and 1992 which also recommended for registration of a case against the appellant -accused. Madhu Prakash -the complainant/Respondent No. 2 herein requested several authorities in the Government of Haryana for registration of a case but no action was taken on which she filed a Criminal Writ Petition being No. 1694 of 1997 before the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The High Court, vide order dated 21.08.1998, issued direction to the Superintendent of Police, Panchkula that after registration of the case, the investigation shall be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the same shall be conducted by an officer not below the rank of DIG. This Court, by its order dated 14.12.1999, upheld the order of the High Court dated 21.08.1998 which culminated into registration of a First Information Report (FIR) being No. 516 of 1999 under Sections 354 and 509 of the IPC at PS Panchkula, Haryana against the appellant -accused.
(l) The CBI filed charge -sheet dated 16.11.2000 before the Court of Special Judicial Magistrate, CBI, Ambala under Section 354 of the IPC. A petition under Section 473 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (in short 'the Code') was filed by the CBI for condoning the delay in filing the charge sheet and for taking cognizance which was allowed by the Court of Special Judicial Magistrate, by his order dated 05.12.2000. Being aggrieved by the order dated 05.12.2000, the appellant -accused preferred Writ Petition (Criminal) being No. 46381 of 2000 before the High Court challenging the condonation of delay. The High Court, by its order dated 18.04.2001 dismissed the petition with a direction to the trial court to dispose of the case preferably within six months.
(m) Further, a petition was filed for addition of Section 306 IPC in the charge sheet which was allowed by an order of the Trial Court dated 23.10.2001. Being aggrieved by the order dated 23.10.2001, the appellant -accused preferred Criminal Misc. Petition being No. 44607 -M/2011 before the High Court. The High Court, by its order dated 12.02.2002, set aside the order dated 23.10.2001 passed by the Trial Court. In appeal, this Court also upheld the order dated 12.02.2002 passed by the High Court.
(n) The Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Chandigarh, by its judgment and order dated 21.12.2009 in Challan No. 3/17 -11 -2000, 12 T/10.04.2006 RBT191/17 -11 -2009, held the appellant -accused guilty of offence under Section 354 of the IPC and sentenced him to suffer rigorous imprisonment (RI) for six months along with a fine of Rs. 1,000/ -. Being aggrieved by the judgment and order dated 21.12.2009, the appellant -accused preferred Criminal Appeal being No. 5 of 12.01.2010 before the Court of Additional Sessions Judge, Chandigarh. The CBI and Madhu Prakash -Respondent No. 2 herein also preferred Criminal Appeal being Nos. 26 of 12.01.2010 and 22 of 05.02.2010 respectively, before the Court for enhancement of sentence. Learned Additional Sessions Judge, Chandigarh, by his order dated 25.05.2010 dismissed the appeal filed by the appellant -accused while allowing the appeals filed by the CBI and Madhu Prakash for inadequacy of the sentence and for enhancement of sentence of imprisonment and the appellant -accused was awarded with rigorous imprisonment for 1 1/2 years (one and a half) for committing offence under Section 354 of the IPC. The sentence of fine remained unchanged.
(o) Being aggrieved of the judgment and order dated 25.05.2010, the appellant -accused preferred Criminal Revision being No. 1558 of 2010 before the High Court. The High Court, by its order dated 01.09.2010, dismissed the revision filed by the appellant -accused.
(p) Aggrieved by the above said order, the appellant -accused has preferred this petition by way of special leave before this Court. This Court, by its order dated 11.11.2010, has allowed the petition filed by the appellant -accused for bail.
(3.) Heard Shri K.V. Viswanathan, learned senior counsel for the appellant -accused and Ms. Vibha Datta Makhija, learned
senior counsel for the CBI and Shri Vikas Mehta, learned
counsel for Respondent No. 2.