“When you find a rotten apple in the system, he/she should be dealt with,” the Kerala High Court told the state government on Wednesday while hearing a matter in which a Kerala police officer has been accused of demanding Rs 5 lakh bribe from a Delhi-based couple to hand over their teenage daughters rescued from the national capital.
While police said that the allegation that the officer had demanded a bribe was unsubstantiated, Justice Devan Ramachandran said he cannot accept this stand and was of the view that there should be further investigation into the matter.
“When you find a rotten apple in the system, you should deal with it. I feel there should be further investigation into the allegations against the officer,” Justice Ramachandran said.
The court said that the allegations of bribe demand cannot generally be proven through direct evidence, but only through circumstantial ones.
“As regards the conclusion that the allegation of the mother against the ASI demanding the bribe is unsubstantiated, I am afraid that this court cannot grant favour to it fully as I am certain that the totality of the allegations, which entail a sordid saga of torment and harassment to the victims and family, will have to be taken into account because the allegation of a bribe can generally not be proved through direct evidence but only through circumstantial ones,” Justice Ramachandran said.
The court was hearing a plea initiated by it on its own based on a newspaper report which claimed that not only did the police demand Rs 5 lakh to release the daughters back to the parents, they also arrested the couple”s two elder sons for allegedly sexually abusing their sisters.
According to the news report, the couple also had to pay for the air fare, hotel stay and taxis of the five Kerala police officers who went to Delhi to search for their missing daughters.
On Wednesday, the legal aid lawyer appointed to represent the victims told the high court that the couple had spent nearly a lakh on airfare, hotel stay and taxi expenses of the police officers, including the Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI).
The lawyer also said that according to the elder daughter, she had paid Rs 20,000 to the Assistant Sub Inspector in Delhi.
The court, thereafter, asked the Director General of Prosecution (DGP), who appeared for the state and the police, whether the controlling authority of these officers was aware of their trip to Delhi and if yes, then was it also aware of their travel arrangements and expenses.
The court sought an answer to this question, which it had raised on the earlier date of hearing of November 1 also, as there was no response on this from the side of the police.
The Director-General of Prosecution, meanwhile, told the court that disciplinary proceedings have been initiated against the five officers and show cause notices have been issued to them seeking their response as to why action be not taken against them.
While the court welcomed the move, it said it cannot accept the police stand that the bribe demand allegations against the Assistant Sub Inspector were unsubstantiated due to certain contradictions in the victims’ mother’s statements.
The court said that it was “abhorrently wrong” on the part of the officers to make the parents pay for the investigation.
It said the court has to stand in the shoes of the victims to understand their plight and added that the mother would have been “terrified” at the time the demand was made to have said anything against it as two of her sons were in jail and the two daughters were in a care home.
According to the news report, the two sisters had run away from home to Delhi with Rs 35,000 to meet the online boyfriend of the elder one.
Subsequently, the parents had to pay for the travel and accommodation of the police team which went to Delhi from Kerala to look for the girls, the news report said.
The team found the girls from Delhi and initial probe revealed that the elder was raped by her online boyfriend and another man.
The team arrested the boyfriend, and brought him and the two girls back to Kerala and on arriving in Kochi, demanded Rs 5 lakh from the parents to release their daughters, the news report had claimed.