Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar faced the most serious threat so far to his future as the city’s top cop on Wednesday when the Delhi High Court asked why no action was taken against him for failing to prevent the brutal gangrape on a moving bus last month.
Outrage at the attack by six men at 9.30pm in posh south Delhi on December 16 led to demands for Kumar’s head from sometimes violent protesters on Delhi’s streets in the days after the incident. Anger against police has grown after the friend of the 23-year-old victim, who was also on the bus, alleged incompetence and callousness in their immediate response.
“Why suspension of only an additional commissioner of police. Why not the police commissioner?” a bench of chief justice D Murugesan and justice V K Jain asked when a status report on the investigation into the incident was submitted to the court.
Delhi Police counsel Dayan Krishnan had told the court that an ACP had been suspended and explanations had been sought from two deputy commissioners of police of the area.
Delhi chief minister Shiela Dikshit and her son, East Delhi MP Sandeep Dikshit, are understood to have demanded Kumar’s ouster, the opposition BJP wants him to go, and former chief justice of India JS Verma has added to the chorus saying the Centre should give Kumar “marching orders for sheer insensitivity and incompetence.”
The bench slammed the status report for being evasive on the names of policemen deployed in police control room, inside the PCR vans which were patrolling the area and at the barricades through where the rogue bus was moving. “Why are you trying to save the errant policemen? You are inviting adverse orders from the court,” the court told the police.
It wanted action against all traffic cops deployed on the route through which the bus travelled for 40 minutes as it had tinted glass banned by the Supreme Court.
The allegations of the victim's friend are being probed by a joint secretary in the home ministry, and a committee headed by former judge Usha Mehra is looking into the police's handling of the investigation. The woman died of her injuries on December 29 at a Singapore hospital. Police filed a chargesheet against five of men on January 3 charging them with kidnapping, murder, gang rape, unnatural sex and dacoity. The sixth accused is a juvenile.