Adherence To Law By Police Officers Should Be More Stringent Than Common Man: SC Sets Aside Anticipatory Bail Granted To SHO
The Supreme Court has observed that a police officer's adherence to the law should be more stringent than expected in general by a common man, while setting aside anticipatory bail granted to a police officer in a rape case.
"His (police officer's) adherence to law has to be more stringent than expected in general by a common man, which apparently, he failed to observe", the Bench observed in its Judgment.
The Bench of Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Vikram Nath made this observation while adjudicating upon an appeal by the victim challenging Rajasthan High Court's order granting anticipatory bail.
It was the prosecution's case that in 2018 the sister of the appellant/prosecutrix made a complaint against her inlaws at the Jhunjhunu police station in Rajasthan. The respondent in this case who was posted as Station House Officer (SHO) in the police station kept with himself some documents of the appellant's sister.
Later she was asked to collect the documents from his official residence. It was alleged that the said SHO offered buttermilk to the appellant, which she claims to have innocently consumed, but apparently, it was laced with drugs resulting in the appellant losing her consciousness.
When she regained consciousness, she found herself in a very awkward situation and immediately realized that she had been exploited by the said SHO. She alleged that he threatened her that he has made videos and clicked photographs in objectionable conditions on his mobile and that if she did not continue to accede to his demands and commands, he would make everything public.
She claimed that she was exploited for almost 2 years. It was further alleged that in 2020, the respondent/SHO forcefully took her in his Jeep to some unknown place and physically assaulted her. She was saved by the patrolling vehicle of the Police department, whereafter she lodged FIR for the offences punishable under Sections 376, 323, 341, 354 and 379 of the Indian Penal Code.
Further, it was the case of the appellant that the respondent/SHO misused his position and got a false case registered against the appellant.
The High Court granted anticipatory bail to the respondent/SHO.
Advocate Shobha Gupta appeared for the appellant/prosecutrix whereas Advocate Nirmal Chopra appeared for respondent-SHO. The state of Rajasthan was represented by Advocate Ketan Paul.
It was submitted that the order of anticipatory bail was passed in a cursory manner by the High Court.
In the counter affidavit filed by the state of Rajasthan, it was submitted that substantial evidence has been unearthed which proves that the respondent/SHO was guilty of the offences. It was further submitted that order for granting anticipatory bail needs to be cancelled for the reason that efforts were still on to recover the obscene photographs, videos, mobile phone and the bag of clothes of the victim in addition to other pieces of evidence. It was also specifically stated that he had not fully cooperated with the investigation.
On the other hand, counsel appearing for the respondent/SHO submitted that the appellant was exploiting respondent/SHO and his family members.
The Court at the outset considered the law on the grant or refusal of anticipatory bail and observed that it was not a fit case for grant of anticipatory bail.
"…we are of the view that considering the seriousness of the offences alleged, this was not a fit case for grant of anticipatory bail, when according to the State, recoveries are yet to be made and the respondent no.2 has not extended full cooperation in the investigation.", the Court observed.
The Court further observed that the respondent/SHO was not a common man and opined that his adherence to law has to be more stringent than expected in general by a common man, which he had failed to observe.
Accordingly, the Court set aside the impugned judgment and order of the High Court. The Court granted him two weeks' time to surrender, failing which, the Court ordered that the Investigating Agency would be at liberty to arrest him.