On March 20, 2006, a German student was raped in Alwar by the son of a DGP rank officer. Next day, the German embassy was informed of the incident. The embassy sent a fax to the Alwar Police and the accused was arrested on board a train to Delhi. The case’s trial got over within a matter of about 10 days.
That morning, when the accused was arrested, I reached Alwar with the victim. The Alwar SP briefed us of the situation. In fact, both the SP and the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case knew the facts well.
During the victim’s cross-examination, the defence lawyer tried to get an adjournment, but the judge was stern. No adjournment happened during the trial and the accused was sentenced to seven years in jail. The swiftness with which police worked and their thoroughness with the case made all the difference.
There was talk that the Rajasthan CM was keeping an eye on the case and that’s why everyone was working with alacrity. It proves that those in power can speed up justice if they want to.
But Delhi was different. When the victim was here, she kept getting threats on SMS. So we asked for security. Two constables came to my office to accompany her to her flat. They began insisting that the girl and her friend hire an autorickshaw instead of a cab. I guess they wanted to sit side by side with pretty German girls. I insisted that they hire a cab.
Later, around midnight, I got a call from the victim that the constables were insisting on spending the night in their flat. When I told the cops to remain outside, they said they had weapons and felt unsafe outside.
Investigation in criminal cases is left to the lowest rung of police officers. Everyone knows that most beat constables take a cut from shops in their areas. After filing a bail plea in court, the IO's palms have to greased if you want him to file the report in time. If you are seeking an accused’s judicial custody and not police custody, you have to pay them again.
Most IOs have little knowledge of the law. They misuse their powers. Till investigations are handled by more responsible officers, we will not see any change in the ground situation. The judges also have to do their bit by not granting adjournments on flimsy grounds.
Jain is a Supreme Court lawyer. She fought the case of the German national who was raped in Alwar in 2006.