NHRC severely indicts Uttar Pradesh Police for illegal proceedings in a case of love marriage and sexual assault of the girl by a policeman in district Balrampur; issues show cause notice to the State Government (29.12.2017)
New Delhi, 29th December, 2017
The National Human Rights Commission has severely indicted the UP Police for illegal proceedings in a case of love marriage resulting in grave violation of human rights of a newlywed couple in district Balrampur. This included wrongful detention, custodial rape, false implication and delay in initiating criminal proceedings against the accused Sub Inspector. Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the Government of Uttar Pradesh, through its Chief Secretary, to show cause why the victim woman, her husband and father-in-law should not be recommended to be paid Rs. 5 lakh, Rs. 3 lakh and Rs. 1.5 lakh respectively as monetary relief in the case. The Chief Secretary has been given 3 months time to respond to submit his reply along with specific action taken on the following:
(i) State shall obtain legal opinion from the Advocate General, UP about the maintainability of the charge sheet filed in the case FIR No. 348/2014, PS Lalia, District Balrampur. If the Advocate General is of the opinion that the charge sheet had been wrongly filed in the case, the State shall immediately take steps to withdraw the charge sheet from the trial court after following the due legal process.
(ii) Case FIR No.432/2014, PS Lalia against the accused Sub Inspector shall be taken up for further investigation after obtaining necessary permission from the competent court and the investigation of the case shall be entrusted to the State Crime Branch or CB CID. Further the investigation of case shall be conducted by an officer not below the rank of DSP.
(iii) A detailed fact finding inquiry into this entire murky episode shall be got conducted by an officer, not below the rank of DIG to bring out the acts of omission and commission of police officers of various levels of District Balrampur including that of the officers at the Police station level, at the first supervisory level and at the level of Additional SP and SP and suitable action will be initiated against each and every officer whose conduct is found to be blameworthy during the course of this fact finding inquiry.
During the course of enquiry, the Commission found that a young man and a girl from Balrampur district had eloped and got married in Mumbai. The girl's father lodged a complaint of kidnapping with the police in the matter, following which, the newlywed couple was called to Mathura police post of Balrampur district. However, instead of taking a proper legal recourse in the mater, both of them were detained in separate cells at the police post from the 12th - 13th August, 2014. The Sub Inspector subjected the girl to sexual assault. When the girl complained about her sexual assault by the Sub Inspector, no prompt lawful action was taken in the matter. The police continued to pursue the case of underage marriage of the couple despite a City Court having held both of them of major age and allowed the girl to live with her husband as per her wish. Not only this, the police, subsequently, charged her husband with rape by adding section 376 to the main case file and also falsely implicated her father-in-law. She was also coerced to retract her allegations under pressure of another FIR having been registered on charges of rape against her supporters.
The Commission also found that in response to its notices, the Superintendent of Police, Balrampur, had failed to give a clear chain of incidents having unity of time, action and place involving the couple's marriage and action taken on another FIR registered by the girl, alleging sexual assault by a Sub Inspector.
While drawing the show cause notice proceedings under case no. 35244/24/11/2014-AR, the Commission, in addition to examining the material on record, also drew references from the observations of the Supreme Court in the matter of S. Varadrajan Vs. State of Madras (1965 AIR (SC) 942) and the High Court of Allahabad in writ petition (MISC) 10562 of 2015 examining the issues of attaining the age of majority and attaining the age of discretion of the girls in two different cases of love marriages.
In the instant case of love marriage, the Commission found similarities and observed that the girl on the date of her alleged kidnapping on 20.5.2014, had attained the age of 17 years and 9 months, a few months short of attaining age of majority but had however, attained the 'age of discretion'. Therefore, she cannot said to have been a victim of inducement, particularly, when the case of the victim herself is that it was on her free will that she had gone with the boy and married him. Therefore, the provisions of section363 and 366 IPC cannot be sustained the case.
Taking a serious exception to the functioning of the police, the Commission has observed that this is an extremely sordid case which has come before it. Not only the police officials had failed in conducting fair and correct investigation, they had also failed to appreciate the provisions of law, as far as, the applicability of Section 376 IPC is concerned.
The kind of illegalities, which the policemen committed in this case and the way these illegalities were allowed to be perpetuated by the supervisory police officers including the SP Balrampur, the Commission observed that it is "reminded of a very old comment, almost half a century old, made by Justice Shri A N Mulla, Allahabad High Court:
"There is not a single lawless group in the whole of the country whose record of crime comes anywhere near the record of that single organised unit which is known as the Indian Police Force…the police force in Uttar Pradesh is an organised gang of criminals…"
This case is a reminder that this pungent observation made almost fifty years ago is still valid and relevant at least for the Balrampur police of 2014."