The minor girl, who along with her father was accused of theft by a woman pink police officer, has to be compensated by the state, the Kerala High Court said today and asked the government how much it was willing to pay.
The Court, however, said it was not going to accede to the demand of Rs. 50 lakh sought by the girl's family as it was an "exorbitant" and "highly exaggerated" amount.
"She certainly has to be compensated under the public law remedy. I am of the view that I will require a specific response from the government in the matter, including as to whether they are willing to accede to any figure," Justice Devan Ramachandran said.
The Judge said that on the last date of the hearing on December 6, he had asked the state how it was going to assuage the feelings of the minor girl, "but it seems you (government) have not understood what I meant", the Court said.
The remarks came after the state submitted before the court that it will carry out a psychiatric evaluation of the child and said nothing else.
It was hearing a plea filed by the 8-year-old girl, seeking a direction to the government to take stern action against the officer for infringing on her fundamental right.
The petitioner has also sought Rs. 50 lakh from the government as compensation for the humiliating incident which occurred on August 27.
During the hearing of the matter, the High Court also said that a proper disciplinary enquiry has to be held against the officer as the continued support of her conduct by the police was making the situation worse for her in the public eye.
"More and more you (state and police) support her (officer), you are making the situation worse for her. She (officer) has to come clean from a proper enquiry," the Court said.
It told the lawyer appearing for the officer that she was only transferred to another post in Kollam from Attingal and need not feel that she has been left marooned. However, she made a mistake and has to take responsibility for her conduct, it added.
The court further said that transfer was never a punishment.
"I have nothing personal against her (officer), but I am certain a disciplinary enquiry should happen and should be conducted properly. Even unsubstantiated allegations are an offence and she had accused the girl and her father of theft," the Judge said.
"I am not saying she should be condemned, but she should be held accountable. Your (police) justification is that she has a family, but can that be a justification for whatever you do," the Judge added.
When the matter was taken up by the Court, it asked the petitioner's lawyer whether the girl and her family were willing to accept the officer's apology.
The lawyer said that her clients do not want to antagonize the court, but they were unwilling to give up their grievances just because the officer apologized as the family and the girl suffered immense trauma as a result of the incident and they only got any justice when they approached the High Court.
The court said it was not intending to close the matter based on the officer's apology, but it only wanted the girl to get some closure as "even holding on to a cinder for long will burn the hands according to Mahatma Gandhi".
"I do not want the child to hold on to a cinder of animosity against the officer for her entire life, that is all," the Judge said.
Meanwhile, a clinical psychologist who had met the child thrice in September after the August 27 incident said that the girl did not exhibit any symptoms of serious trauma or PTSD and she appeared to be "very communicative and intelligent" and exhibited "good ego strength".
The Court on the last date had said that it wanted to speak to the doctor who had carried out the psychiatric evaluation of the child.
Earlier, the Court had said that the incident occurred as the officer in question was "drunk on power".
It had said that the pink police officer's conduct indicated "pure ego and arrogance of the khaki".
The incident occurred on August 27 when Attingal resident Jayachandran reached Moonumukku with his eight-year-old daughter, who wanted to watch the movement of a massive cargo to the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thumba.
Rajitha, a woman police officer attached to the Pink Police, was deployed to assist in traffic regulation and she accused the duo of stealing her mobile phone that was kept in the police vehicle.
In a video that went viral, the officer and her colleague were seen harassing the father and the daughter and even frisking him. The child broke down amid their harassment.
However, when an onlooker dialled the number of the officer, the mobile phone was found in the police vehicle, following which the police team left the scene without even tendering an apology to the father and the daughter.
As part of disciplinary action, the woman officer was transferred and the State Police Chief directed her to undergo behavioural training.
The Court has listed the matter for hearing on December 20.
With PTI inputs