Former Haryana DGP SPS Rathore, against whom serious charges have been brought in the Ruchika molestation case, on Friday got temporary reprieve when he was granted interim bail till January 7 by a local court.
The order was passed by District and Sessions Judge S P Singh after hearing Abha Rathore, the lawyer-wife of 67-year-old Rathore, following registration of fresh FIRs by Ruchika's family accusing the former IPS officer of attempting to murder her brother Ashu and doctoring her post-mortem report.
"The petitioner (Rathore), if arrested by the police till January seven under the two FIRs, will be released on interim bail on furnishing bail bonds of Rs one lakh with one surety of like amount in each case to the satisfaction of the
arresting officer," the judge said.
While issuing notice to the state for a reply on January 6, Singh directed Rathore not to leave the country without the permission of the court.
"The petitioner shall not directly or indirectly make any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted
with the facts to the case so as to dissuade him from disclosing such facts to the court or any police officer," he
The interim bail, the judge said, shall remain in force till January 7 when the case will come up for further hearing. Rathore was not present in the court.
Abha argued before the judge that Ruchika's father, Subhash Chander Girhotra, Ashu and the family of Madhu Prakash, the complainant in the molestation case, "want to become heroes and heroines in the eyes of the public". She alleged that the facts had been "fabricated and interpolated."
In its three-page order, the court also directed Rathore to make himself available for investigation in connection with the two cases if the police asked him to join the probe.
The judge did not consider Rathore's anticipatory bail but only accepted the plea of interim bail. "At this stage of the present case, the court is not exercising its power either to grant or refuse the anticipatory bail of the petitioner."
He said, "The counsel for the petitioner has made a request for grant of interim bail only till the next date of hearing when the state will appear and present its case before the court lest the petitioner is arrested before hearing of the matter on merits by the court from both the sides."
The order further said, "Going by the submission of the counsel and perusing the order/documents referred before me, formation of SIT which is still to collect/appreciate the evidence before arresting the petitioner, such a request of the counsel (Abha) deserves acceptance.
"The court is aware of the legal proposition that anticipatory bail to some extent intrudes into the sphere of the investigation of the crime and the court must be cautious and must circumspect in exercising such power of discretionary nature."
The case will on the next date come up before the Additional District and Sessions Judge Sanjiv Jindal as Singh would be on leave from January four to 12.
Asked whether the development was a set back to the case against Rathore, Pankaj Bhardwaj, lawyer for Ruchika's family, expressed the hope that he will be able to expose the truth on the next date of hearing.
"So far we have not got any opportunity to present our case," Bhardwaj said, noting that he will oppose Rathore's bail on the next date of hearing. "We are hopeful of getting justice".
Aradhana, the sole witness to the molestation of 14-year-old Ruchika in 1990, said the order of the court was "pretty expected."
Girhotra and Ashu had filed two complaints against Rathore on Tuesday and the police, on the same night, had registered the fresh FIRs. The trial court had sentenced the Haryana top cop to six months imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1000 for molesting Ruchika. She committed suicide three years later allegedly due to Rathore's harassment.
Abha said in the court the charge under 306 IPC (abetment to suicide) being levelled now by Ruchika's brother has been settled at the level of the Supreme Court, and submitted a copy of the apex court order.
"After 16/17 years, the Girhotra and Parkash families are raising this issue," she said, contending that the two fresh FIRs lodged this week against Rathore mostly had bailable offences, barring a few which are nor bailable.
Referring to the role of former Ambala SP K P Singh, Abha said that the then district police chief, of which Panchkula was a part in the 1990s, had recorded his statement that Rathore was not his supervisory officer.
"ASI Sewa Singh (another policeman named by the Girhotra family) never wrote on record that Rathore pressurised him or he had ever talked to him regarding this case," she said.
Rathore's wife claimed, "Anand Parkash (Aradhana's father) had a bad service record," and contended that there were corruption charges also against him. "Now they are becoming heroes of the media".