Taking suo motu cognisance of the Patiala gangrape-suicide case, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday directed the inspector general (IG) of police concerned to file a detailed status report of the incident and subsequent action taken against erring police officials.
Taking notice of news reports about the incident, in which an 18-year-old gangrape victim was allegedly threatened by the accused and harassed by policemen when she approached the latter for getting an FIR lodged, chief justice AK Sikri said the incident depicted a very sordid state of affairs.
The chief justice observed, "Due to these extreme circumstances, the girl thought that the only course of action left was to end her life, blaming three men and a woman for destroying her life."
Stating that enough is enough, the order said, "The manner in which events are taking place in the last few days are an eye-opener. In a situation like this case, the alleged rapists were not only roaming freely but also allowed to reportedly threaten the victim and her family members, while the girl and her mother's requests had no effect on policemen, who remained deaf."
The chief justice further observed, "When the police start shielding and protecting culprits and start treating the victims of crimes as the accused, it is a sad day for democracy of a country governed by the rule of law," adding that the high court was compelled to take suo motu notice of such reports.
In his order, justice Sikri directed the Patiala IG to submit a report after examining each aspect leading to the victim's suicide. The court also told the IG to file a report fixing the responsibility of erring officials and stating the action taken against them.
Referring to incidents of rape in Delhi, the order stated that there was a need for combating this "rape culture" by reforming various institutions. "The law for punishing such crimes appears to be on the statute book; it is lack of adequate enforcement system which contributes to repeated commission of such crimes," justice Sikri observed.
The chief justice stressed on the need for a complete revamp and strengthening of the criminal justice system, while observing that one of the reasons for the upsurge of such crimes was lack of deterrence and a feeling in the minds of such criminals that the law would not be able to catch them, and in any case even if trial takes place, they would go unpunished. In this process, the first and foremost importance lies with the investigation of such crimes as and when reported, the order added.
The chief justice has also sought a report stating the measures police intended to take for preventing these occurrences in future. A notice in this regard has also been issued to the Haryana government and the Chandigarh authorities.
The court has fixed January 8 as the next date of hearing.