New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the conviction of former Haryana Director General of Police S.P.S. Rathore for molesting a teenage tennis player, who committed suicide later, but let him off with the sentence he had already served.
Upholding the conviction of Rathore, a bench of Justice V. Gopala Gowda and Justice R.K. Agrawal modified the one-and-half years’ sentence handed down by a lower court to jail term he has already served “as a special case”, citing his advance age and ill health. Rathore was born in 1941.
Rathore spent only five months in jail after his conviction.
Noting that the statutory provisions provide for strict penal action against such offenders, Justice Agrawal, speaking for the bench, said: “The courts should be more cautious in appreciating the evidence and the accused should not be left scot-free merely on flimsy grounds.”
Observing that those accused of outraging the modesty of women should not be let off on flimsy grounds, the judgment said: “There is devastating increase in cases relating to crime against women in the world and our country is also no exception to it.”
“Keeping in view especially the old age and physical condition of the appellant-accused (Rathore), we do not think it expedient to put him back in jail,” the apex court said.
“While we uphold the findings as to the guilt of the appellant-accused, we are of the opinion that the cause of justice would be best sub-served when the sentence of the appellant-accused would be altered to the period already undergone,” the court added.
“We, therefore, reduce the sentence of the appellant to the period already undergone by him as a special case, considering his very advanced age,” the court said.
Rathore was initially awarded six months in jail by the trial court on December 21, 2009, which was later enhanced to one and a half years by the sessions court on May 25, 2010, following an appeal by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court rejected Rathore’s plea on September 1, 2010, and declined to interfere with the sessions court’s ruling, calling his conduct “shameful”.
In 1990, Rathore had molested 14-year-old Ruchika Girhotra, who later committed suicide. Rathore was on deputation to the Bhakra Beas Management Board as Director (Vigilance and Security) at that time.
He had founded the Haryana Lawn Tennis Association in 1988. Its office was housed in a garage of his under-construction house in Panchkula, a Haryana city adjoining Chandigarh, where the molestation occurred.