FRIVOLOUS PETITIONS FILED ONLY TO ARM TWIST POLICE OFFICERS OUGHT NOT TO BE ENTERTAINED: DELHI HC

In a great relief for police officers, the Delhi High Court has in a learned, laudable, landmark and latest judgment titled Miss J Through Her Mother & Anr vs Commissioner of Police & Ors in W.P.(CRL) 1079/2021 & CRL.M.A. 8751/2021 delivered finally on November 30, 2021 has observed that the Court has to ensure that frivolous petition filed only for the purpose of arm twisting the police officers ought not to be entertained. How can a police officer fearlessly discharge his/her duty if he/she is arm twisted and cajoled by making frivolous petition as their most potent weapon? Keeping this in mind, Justice Subramonium Prasad of the Delhi High Court observed quite forthrightly that, “It is the duty of the State to provide protection to every citizen of the country but at the same time the Court has to ensure that frivolous petitions which are filed only to interfere with the investigation and to arm twist the Police officers, ought not to be entertained.” Very rightly so!

To start with, the ball is set rolling first and foremost in para 2 wherein it is put forth while dealing with the facts that, “The facts leading to this petition emanate from FIR No.65/2021 dated 05.02.2021 registered at Police Station Ranhola for an offence under Section 363 IPC, whereby a missing report was filed by the Mother of the victim and the instant FIR was registered.

(i) It is stated by the complainant that her younger daughter Miss J aged about 15 years had left their home on 04.02.2021 at about 9:00 AM stating that she is going to get biscuits.

(ii) It is stated that on 05.02.2021, Miss J called her mother that she is in Ghaziabad. The mother of the petitioner approached the Police and the Police recovered Miss J. Later the complainant in her Section 161 statement revealed that she realised that her second daughter Miss C was also missing and later found out that she had been kidnapped and raped.

(iii) SI Sapna Sharma, Investigating Officer was appointed to investigate the case. On 05.02.2021, Investigating Officer recorded Section 161 CrPC of the alleged victims. After recovering Miss J was produced before the Child Welfare Committee details of the place she had been kidnapped from were ascertained from the victim. The complainant’s statement was also recorded under Section 161 CrPC wherein she stated that she has three daughters and one of them was in office and two have been kidnapped, molested and raped. She gave their ages to be 17 years and 15 years, whereas the I.O. independently verified the ages and found the age of Miss J to be 17 years and 4 months and Miss C to be 19 years and 5 months.

(iv) She stated that one Mr. Sunil Gupta, who their neighbour was responsible for this acts committed against the modesty of her daughter.

(v) Further, during investigation, the CCTV footages were retrieved and it was seen thereof which showed that on 04.02.2021 Miss J at about 9 AM, along with her elder sister R were leaving their home.

(vi) Miss C was seen in the CCTV footage shortly thereafter leaving home. The CDR records of the accused persons were analysed and CDR of the victims was also analysed. It was found on a comparative reading of the CDRs that the accused Mr. Sunil Gupta was present in Delhi and was on duty in his office and his location was verified as per the CDR and independently verified from the superior of the accused at his workplace. It was found during investigation that the victims were not actually in Delhi and were in Ludhiana. After it was brought to light that the CDR of the victims were traced in Ludhiana, the S.I. conduct the further investigation at Ludhiana.

(vii) It was found that Miss J and her sister Miss C were stating in a hotel Park Blue opposite Dhyan Singh Complex in Ludhiana and were accompanied by their two friends, namely, Zahid and Vikas Singh Chandel. The CCTV footage of the hotel where the victims CDR was traced to was checked and their presence was seen in the camera and their names were recorded in the guest register and entries were made by the victims giving fictitious names. When the police tried to locate the boys who allegedly accompanied the victims to Ludhiana, namely Zahid Qureshi and Vikas Singh Chandel, they found that Vikas Singh Chandel had gone abroad to pursue higher studies and Zahid Qureshi did not join investigation despite several efforts whereafter Section 82 CrPC proceedings were commenced against Zahid Qureshi.

(viii) The statement of victims J and C were recorded under Section 164 CrPC before the learned Metropolitan Magistrate in the presence of the Investigating Officer, SI Sapna Sharma on 06.04.2021.

(ix) In her Section 164 CrPC statement, Miss J had stated that on the morning of 04.02.2021, she went out of her house at around 9 AM to get biscuits where she was accosted by the alleged accused Sunil Gupta and his wife who she states forcibly dragged her into a four wheeler and took her to desolate place. She has stated that Sunil Gupta and his wife disrobed her in the van and touched her private parts. It further states that she was taken to a unknown dark room where a boy unknown to her raped her and, thereafter she was raped by two more boys. She states that two persons allegedly at the behest of accused Sunil Gupta raped her and she states that the next day i.e. on 05.02.2021 she was raped again and she started bleeding from her private parts. She was then, she states, dropped to an unknown place in the middle of agricultural field. She states that she requested for help from bystander to make a phone call she called her mother and stated what had transpired.

(x) It is stated that she was recovered by police officials of Bhajanpura Police Station and then taken to Ranhola Police Station whereafter she was taken for a medical examination to DDU hospital. She gave a number of description of the clothes worn by her abuser and stated that she could identify him if he came in front of her.

(xi) In her Section 164 CrPC statement, it is stated that her sister was also raped and made to drink acid. Furthermore, she stated that if anything untoward happens to her or any of her family members, the family of Sunil Gupta will be solely responsible for that.”

As it turned out, the Bench then envisages in para 3 that, “The present petition has been filed with multiple and omnibus prayers, namely, the S.I. to whom the case was assigned should be changed; disciplinary action should be taken against the S.I. for conducting investigation in an unfair and prejudiced manner; The case FIR No.65/2021 dated 05.02.2021 at Police Station Ranhola to direct the instant FIR to be placed before the Commissioner of Police who should appoint a new I.O. to conduct a de novo investigation; Pass an order directing the State to pay a compensation of Rs.10,00,000/- to the victims; direct the State to provide government employment to the victims on their attainment of majority.”

Be it noted, the Bench then enunciates in para 8 that, “Chargesheet stands filed on 22.10.2021. Supplementary chargesheet has also been filed and charges are yet to be framed. The genesis of this case levels extraordinarily serious and concerning allegations. The offences alleged are of Section 363, 376 IPC read with Section 6 and 8 of the POCSO Act. This Court, in this observation, is only confining itself to the materials which have been placed on record and refrains from expressing its opinion on the merits of this case. A careful perusal of the material on record indicates that there have been numerous FIRs and cross-FIRs between the family of the victims and accused Sunil Gupta and his family. It appears that both families have been inimical towards each other. Without conclusively ascertaining and only for purpose of the present proceedings, there appears to be a contradiction between the statements of the victim and the material on record. From the material placed before this Court, it is seen that accused Sunil Gupta was present in Delhi at the Chief Engineers Office at Police Headquarters from 2:35 PM till 4:00 PM and his wife Sunita Devi, was also seen in a CCTV footage at the Health Centre at Mohalla Clinic on 04.02.2021 at about 4 PM. It is noted that photographs from the CCTV footage show that the victims were at Hotel Park Blue, Ludhiana with some boys. Further, it appears that Miss J and her sister uploaded photographs to their social media handles with their male friends, which belies the case of abduction and rape.”

Most significantly, the Bench then quite forthrightly observes in para 9 that, “After perusing the material placed on record and a holistic understanding of the sequence of events bolstered by the fact that a family feud has been simmering for a long period of time, this Court is of the opinion that investigation has been done in a fair manner. It appears to this Court that the family of the petitioners is using the present proceedings as a apparatus for attempting to suborn and exert pressure on the police to investigate and deal with other cases in a particular manner. The instant petition is a ruse to arm-twist the Policemen. The petitioners have not made out any case for directing the Commissioner of Police (Delhi) to take disciplinary action against Ms. Sapna Sharma, Women SI, working at Ranhola Police Station for not doing fair investigation and for threatening Miss J, Miss C and her family members. The petitioner has also not made out any case to directed the Commissioner of Police (Delhi) to lodge an FIR under section 166A/503 IPC against Ms. Sapna Sharma, Women SI, working at Ranhola Police Station for not discharging her duties in a fair and impartial manner. The petitioner has not made out any case for directing the respondent to provide compensation of Rs. 10,00,000/- each to Miss J and Miss C as per the “Compensation Scheme for Women Victims/Survivors of Sexual Assault/other Crimes, 2018”. Needless to state that the prayer for directing the concerned authorities to provide governmental jobs/employment to Miss J and Miss C when they become major cannot be granted in this petition as there is no right of the petitioner to ask for the same nor is there any right for granting any monetary compensation to the petitioner and her sister.”

The Bench then directs in para 10 that, “Be it noted that all these observations have been made only for the purpose of the present writ petition. The Trial Court is directed to not be influenced by any of the observations made by this Court while dealing with the merits of the case. It is always open for the Trial Court to exercise the powers under Section 319 Cr.P.C. at any stage of the Trial in case some material surfaces against any other person.” The Bench then underscores, “It is the duty of the State to provide protection to every citizen of the country but at the same time this Court has to ensure that frivolous petitions, which are filed only to interfere with the investigation and to arm twist the Police officers, ought not to be entertained.”

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