Thursday, September 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

High Court, rights panels seek report
Ludhiana child gangrape case
Tribune News Service

New Delhi/Chandigarh, September 24
In less than 12 hours after a news item appeared in The Tribune about a four-year-old being muted by gangrape, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) and the Punjab State Women Commission (PSWC) today took a serious view of the matter. Punjab Governor’s wife Shobha Verma also expressed concern about the incident.

The NHRC reportedly asked the state government to look into the matter and submit a report. A copy of the news report was directed to be sent to Punjab’s Director-General of Police (DGP) and Ludhiana’s Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) for submitting a report within four weeks.

After taking suo motu cognisance of the report, the high court impleaded the DGP as a party, along with the state and other respondents. A note for taking appropriate action in the matter was initially forwarded to the Chief Justice, Mr Justice B.K. Roy, by Mr Justice Amar Dutt.

Acting on the same, a Division Bench, headed by the Chief Justice, ordered the impleading of the DGP, the state, Ludhiana’s SSP and the Station House Officer of the Focal Point police station.

The Tribune’s Editor was also granted liberty to assist the court if he so desired. Advocate Manisha Gandhi too was appointed as amicus curie in the matter. The order’s copy was further directed to be handed over to Punjab’s Senior Deputy Advocate-General Charu Tuli.

Meanwhile, the PSHRC directed the DGP to personally visit the place for looking into the matter. He was also directed to file his report before the commission within three days. The interim report would have to be submitted by tomorrow.

The commission ruled, “The DGP shall also ensure that the medical examination of the girl is conducted by a board of doctors within 24 hours after receiving the order’s copy”.

In its detailed order, the PSHRC’s full Bench, comprising Chairman Justice N.C. Jain and members B.C. Rajput, V.K. Sibal and N.K. Arora, observed, “The commission is prima facie of the view that the allegation, if correct, will amount to gross violation of human rights of a mother and her young child by certain execrable elements in society. The commission has serious concern about the allegations that the police has not registered a case when the alleged rapists had been identified by the mother of the girl”.

The PSWC also took suo motu congnisance of the report and directed Ludhiana’s SSP to personally conduct an inquiry into the matter. Chairperson Surinder Kaur Grewal ruled that the allegations in the story were a cause of great concern and warranted immediate action.

She said, “Accordingly, the commission is asking Ludhiana’s SSP to conduct an inquiry into the case personally and submit a report to the commission within 48 hours. The SSP will also ensure that the life and liberty of the victim and of her family members be protected and the victim be given medical treatment”.

Addressing a gathering, Ms Verma urged the Indian Council of Social Welfare to take up the case. The council should take personal interest in the case.



Rights panel team in Ludhiana for probe
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 24
Taking suo motu notice of The Tribune report that appeared in today’s issue, the Punjab Human Rights Commission (PHRC) has started an inquiry into the case. The DGP (PHRC), Mr S.K. Verma, visited Ludhiana today and talked to senior police officers. He also met the mother of the victim.

The police has asked the Civil Surgeon, Ludhiana, to constitute a medical board to examine the child afresh to verify the truth.

Mr Verma maintained that during preliminary investigations he had found that the police had registered an FIR on the complaint of Chanderwati on September 10. He said although no person had been rounded up so far, the police had already questioned about 26 persons.

He said the police had sent the swap of the victim to a forensic laboratory and the medical test of the child conducted on August 26, the second day of the incident, had established that the hymen of the child was intact. However, he said it was too early to rush to a conclusion and the final investigations would take some time.

The SSP, Mr Narinderpal Singh, told reporters that he had asked the Civil Surgeon to constitute a medical board to examine the child once again. He said it was at his instance that the Focal Point police had registered a case of rape on the basis of Chanderwati’s complaint.

The police claimed that the preliminary investigations had revealed that on the afternoon of August 25, the victim was playing with a girl when she slid from the staircase. As a result of which her clothes got torn and she suffered some injuries on the legs that caused bleeding. Her mother took her to a private hospital in Sahnewal and a doctor told her that she should take the child to the Civil Hospital. He called up the police and the SHO Focal Point, Mr Balwinder Singh, deputed a vehicle for her. The girl was examined at the Civil Hospital.

The police claimed that the medico-legal report stated that no external injury had been noticed on the body of the child. According to the police, Chanderwati had recorded a statement with the police that she did not want a complaint to be registered against anyone.

However, after 15 days, on September 10, the police said, she approached the SSP and alleged that her daughter had been gangraped. The SSP immediately ordered the registration of an FIR. While Chanderwati has named six persons in her written complaint, the police claimed that in the FIR she did not mention any names. She had been maintaining that she could recognise the accused and that they were roaming round freely.

The police said there was no need for arrests as questioning had already been undertaken. The SSP justified the police stand, claiming, that “you cannot arrest a person merely on the allegations of someone”. He said, investigations were on and the truth would soon be established. Asked whether the heinous nature of the crime did not warrant detention, he said nobody could go against the law and everything had to be done according to legal procedures.

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