Bail to Haryana BJP chief’s son: Questions over police action in stalking case
The UT police is being accused of not adding Section 365 (kidnapping) and 511 (attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment) in the FIR registered against the duo, even as the woman in her Facebook post had alleged an attempt to kidnap.punjab Updated: Aug 07, 2017 23:41 IST
After Haryana Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president’s son, Vikas Barala, arrested for stalking and drink driving, was released on bail on Saturday, politicians and social media users are accusing Chandigarh Police of buckling under pressure and going soft against the accused.
Vikas, 23, a law student, and his friend Ashish Kumar, 27, were arrested from the Housing Board light point late on Friday night. The woman, a disc jockey, who was driving from Sector 9, Chandigarh, towards Panchkula at 12.35am, alleged that the two men followed her in their Tata Safari Storme. Both were drunk, she alleged, and at one point the SUV blocked her way and the person in the co-driver’s seat started walking towards her vehicle.
As the case was registered for stalking under Section 354-D (stalking) of the Indian Penal Code, which is a bailable offence when a person is booked the first time, the two walked free for the time being.
Congress leader and former Union minister Manish Tewari said on Sunday that the police have “completely diluted” the case under pressure. Even the legal fraternity is divided on the issue.
The UT police is being accused of not adding Section 365 (kidnapping) and 511 (attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment) in the FIR registered against the duo, even as the woman in her Facebook post had alleged an attempt to kidnap.
“Police have completely diluted the case under the BJP pressure, and have not added Section 365 and 511. It has exposed the BJP’s double standard,” said Tewari.
Even as the FIR mentions “complaint regarding harassment and attempt to kidnap and outrage the modesty of a girl”, the sections were not included on the basis of the woman’s statement before the magistrate under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, said police.
UT senior superintendent of police (SSP) Eish Singhal said: “We always go by the victim’s statement, in which no such case of kidnapping was made out. To claim it in a Facebook post is different. Nonetheless, we are seeking legal opinion.”
‘They came with intent to abduct’
Talking to HT, the woman said: “I didn’t specifically use the word kidnap before the magistrate. But, any girl or any person whose car window was being knocked on at that hour would know this wasn’t just a routine affair. One can sense it. It couldn’t have been for a conversation, right? It was with an intention of abduction.”
The 29-year-old, however, said she had faith in the system, given the promptness the cops showed that night after she contacted them.
“Besides being punished as per law, the accused need to be punished in a way that they realise the trauma of the person on the receiving end,” she said.
Her father, a senior Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer, said: “At this stage, we don’t want to intervene in police investigation. But if at a latter stage we feel the matter hasn’t been dealt with properly, I will bring in my own team of lawyers. More sections can always be added in court. I have faith in our judicial system.”
The police had initially registered an FIR under Section 354 D of the IPC at the Sector 26 police station. Section 185 of the Motor Vehicle Act (driving by a drunken person) was added after the medical examination of the accused stated “their breathe smelled of alcohol”.
After the woman’s statement before the magistrate, Section 341 (wrongful restraint) of the IPC was also added.
Even legal fraternity divided
Sumeet Goyal, a lawyer at the Punjab and Haryana high court, said the intention of police was evident from the fact that they included 354D (stalking) of the IPC and not Section 354 (sexual harassment), which is a non-bailable offence.
“It is a clear-cut case of Sections 354, 365 (kidnapping) read with 511 of the IPC. Let me put it straight, they wouldn’t have walked up to the girl simply to say hi, hello,” he said.
However, AS Chahal, another prominent lawyer, said police were being fair, as one could not jump to the conclusion that it was a case of kidnapping simply because one knocked on the victim’s car window at a late hour.
“If from the statement of the girl, a case of kidnapping is made out, then it should be added,” said advocate Atul Lakhanpal. “From what I understand from whatever I have read, I don’t think it makes for one.”