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Tuesday, May 25, 2010 09:06:39 PM, IANS

Chandigarh: Twenty years after he molested teenager Ruchika Girhotra that allegedly led her to commit suicide, disgraced former Haryana police chief S.P.S. Rathore was Tuesday sentenced to 18 months in prison after a judge upheld his conviction but hiked the jail term.


Rathore, 68, turned grim as Additional District and Sessions Judge Gurbir Singh pronounced the verdict in a packed court here. In no time an officer who at one time was considered one of the most powerful men in Haryana was led away to the Burail Jail here.

The judge rejected his appeal against his December 2009 conviction in a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court in the August 1990 molestation of Girhotra in Panchkula, a Haryana town 15 km from here.

This is the first time in two decades that Rathore has been formally arrested in the molestation case that millions followed across the country after the dead girl’s best friend took on the ex-cop in what at one time seemed an unequal David-versus-Goliath battle.

On Tuesday, however, Ruchika’s family and friends were jubilant.

“We are very happy. Justice has been done. But our fight to get him even more punishment for abetment to suicide will continue. We cannot bring Ruchika back but today her soul will rest in peace,” Ruchika’s father S.C. Girhotra told IANS after the verdict.

“This shows that no one is above the law. Even a powerful person like him can be punished. Two years or one-and-a-half years does not matter,” he added.

Rathore’s wife and senior lawyer Abha Rathore and his other lawyers surrounded him in the court even as Ruchika’s father and others rushed out to announce the judgment to a battery of journalists waiting outside.

Rathore’s wife pleaded with the judge that her husband had undergone a heart bypass surgery and should be given bail. But the judge ordered that Rathore be arrested and taken to Burail prison. He asked Rathore’s wife to give reports of his medical condition to the jail superintendent.

Rathore was later examined by a doctor in the jail. His wife reached the prison to meet him but was not given entry. She gave his medicines to the prison staff.

The CBI had opposed Rathore’s plea and sought that his earlier jail sentence of six months be enhanced to at least two years.

Rathore, who had not expected the court to do what it did, was beaming when he left his bungalow in Panchkula’s upscale Sector 6 for the court.

Dressed in a white striped shirt and trousers with a tie and black sun-shades, he folded his hands in greeting as his Tata Indica car passed the waiting media.

Judge Singh had heard the arguments continuously for eight days in May.

The court order came after Rathore, a former director general of police in Haryana, filed a plea in January challenging his conviction in December by a CBI special court here for molesting 15-year-old Ruchika Aug 12, 1990.

Ruchika committed suicide three years later in Panchkula town, adjoining Chandigarh.

Rathore was sentenced to six months’ rigorous imprisonment and fined Rs.1,000 by the special court. However, he was immediately granted bail.

Anand Parkash, the main complainant in this case, said: “We have won the battle and now we will win the war. We want more punishment for him.”

His daughter Aradhna, who lives in Australia, was the only eyewitness in this case.

Reacting to the verdict, advocate Kriti Singh said in New Delhi: “One and half years jail term may be just fine, but it is still less than the maximum term of two years that a convict could be given for molesting the girl.

“The real justice to the girl would be the day Rathore is tried for driving the young girl to commit suicide by harassing her family members and implicating her brother in false cases,” said Singh, legal counsel of the All India Democratic Women Association (AIDWA).

Lawyer Ajay Agrawal, who waged a long battle in the Supreme Court to get Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchhi extradited to India for his alleged role in the Bofors gun pay off scandal, said: “Enhancement of the sentence by just one year is merely symbolic justice to the girl.”

 

 

 

 

 

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