Former Haryana police chief S.P.S. Rathore, convicted of molesting Ruchika Girhotra, will be the first police officer to be stripped of his police medal.
Other decorated officers — convicted of a crime, dismissed from service or on the run — could meet the same fate.
This could include R.K. Sharma, convicted of killing journalist Shivani Bhatnagar and dismissed from service. And former Punjab Police chief K.P.S. Gill, convicted of outraging the modesty of a woman IAS officer and put on probation for a year.
“The Central Police Awards Committee recommended
withdrawal of the President’s Medal for Meritorious Service conferred on Rathore in 1985,” Home Secretary G.K. Pillai said.
The recommendation will go for a final call to President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, who incidentally told a batch of IPS probationers that “the authority of the uniform must be utilized to penalise law breakers”.
“The committee also decided to authorise the Home Ministry to recommend withdrawal of police medals of those convicted of moral turpitude (conduct contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or morals) or dismissed from service for bringing disrepute to the police,” Pillai said.
Any case that doesn’t fall under these categories but in the ministry’s opinion has shamed the police would have to be referred to the committee, he added. This provision would cover officers on the run and other unforeseen possibilities.
However, a ministry official clarified that Monday’s decision didn’t mean all tainted officers would automatically lose their medals. “It is an empowering provision, an extension of the rules for forfeiting police medals that already exists. It doesn’t force the government to withdraw medals in all cases.”
For instance, in Gill’s case, the ministry could decide against such drastic action.