M A I N   N E W S

Rathore’s bail extended till Feb 8
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
In a breather to former Haryana DGP SPS Rathore, a local court today extended till February 8 his post-conviction bail in the Ruchika Girhotra molestation case. But, he was directed to surrender his passport and not to leave the country. Also, he was told to furnish bail bonds of Rs 1 lakh.

Notably, the court order came after Rathore filed an appeal against his conviction in the case by a CBI special court in Chandigarh in December last. The CBI court had held Rathore guilty of molesting 15-year-old Ruchika, a budding tennis player, in Panchkula in August 1990. He was sentenced to six-month rigorous imprisonment and also slapped a fine of Rs 1,000.

Pronouncing the orders in a packed courtroom today, Additional District and Sessions Judge RS Attri made it clear that the ex-DGP’s appeal would be taken on fast track and would be heard in three hearings — February 8, 9 and 10, the last date for the final arguments.

Admitted in the court yesterday, the appeal was taken up today after much delay. While the hearing had been fixed prior to lunch, it only came up after the lunch following the absence of Rathore and his lawyer-wife Abha.

Meanwhile, CBI counsel CP Pandey apprised the court that he got a copy of the appeal only yesterday and the CBI authorities had decided to engage CS Sharma, who had represented the agency for the last 10 years in the case, as a counsel. He initially sought adjournment for three days for filling a written reply.

While pleading for Rathore’s bail, his counsel Ajit Singh stated that the accused was 68-year-old and a heart patient, too, and that he never misused his bail during the trial or post-conviction. Quoting two similar cases, one pertaining to Navjot Singh when he was acquitted and he challenged the same in the Supreme Court and was granted bail, and Siddharth Anand, who was convicted in 2009 in a corruption case, Ajit said that Rathore’s offence was bailable. Advocating his bail plea, Abha Rathore argued that the delay in the case, as projected by the media, was never on their part and that the “CBI was responsible for it”. Opposing Rathore’s bail, the counsel for Anand Parkash and Girhotras, Pankaj Bharadwaj, contended that no FIR had been registered in the case despite the inquiry report by the then DGP, RR Singh, finding him (Rathore) guilty of molesting Ruchika.

Bharadwaj stated that even the school that had wrongly expelled Ruchika had now been found guilty and her brother Ashu, too, was falsely implicated in auto theft cases. All this, claimed he, took place at the behest of Rathore, who had been “influencing the witnesses”. Lashing out at the present special investigating team, the counsel held that history was being repeated, with the police officers again catching those who had falsely named Ashu as their co-accused.

Meanwhile, the CBI, following a green signal from the directorate, was contemplating filing a counter appeal for the enhancement of Rathore’s sentence in the case.



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