Former Haryana Inspector General of Police M S Ahlawat was, on Tuesday, granted interim anticipatory bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a case of alleged molestation of a Yamunanagar-based woman lawyer eight years ago.
Ahlawat has been missing after his anticipatory bail plea was dismissed by a Yamunanagar court on June 16. Vacation Judge Alok Singh ordered that in the event of Ahlawat's arrest, he be released on bail and further directed that he should cooperate with the investigations.
He issued notice of motion to the State of Haryana for July 13. Ahlawat, who was not himself present in the court, was recently booked by the Yamunanagar police under sections 354 (criminal force on woman with intent to outrage modesty), 323 (assault with intent to voluntarily cause hurt) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC.
As Ahlawat's bail plea came up before the court, the former Haryana cop's counsel Ajay Jain argued that the complainant had for the first time levelled allegations in 2005.
"The offence are under Section 468 CrPC which provides when the offences are punishable for two years or less than two years then no court can take cognizance of offences beyond a period of three years," he argued.
He further pleaded that no custodial interrogation of Ahlawat was required as only voice samples and specimen handwriting may be needed for which the petitioner was always ready.
"If we take the case of prosecution on face value then no case of 506 of the IPC is made out as there is no allegation of criminal intimidation either in the FIR or in the complaint prior to the lodging of the FIR," Jain aruged.
He also said that the complainant has "improved the versions and changed stand at different times with regards to the offences punishable under Section 354".
After Ahlawat's bail plea was dismissed, Haryana Police had issued lookout notice and alerted airports against him to prevent him from fleeing the country. The police had also been searching for him in Haryana, UP and Delhi in his search, but had failed to trace him.
The woman lawyer had earlier this month lodged a complaint with the police, charging Ahlawat with sexually harassing her when he was the Yamunanagar SP in 2002. She claimed to have come into Ahlawat's contact when she had approached the Yamunanagar police in May 2002 to lodge a case of dowry harassment against her husband.
The victim alleged that the officer had insisted on meeting her in his camp office and allegedly tried to establish illicit relations with her.