Representative Image
Representative Image

Mumbai: The Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) dismissed a plea filed by police officer, who was dismissed from service for raping a minor girl, by observing that rape is as heinous and grave as a terrorism or sedition. The tribunal refused to accept the police officer’s contention that the competent authority did not hold an enquiry before dismissing him from his service.

A bench of Justice Mridula Bhatkar, the chairperson of the MAT and the vice chairperson Praveen Dixit said the victim shouldn't be subjected to "horrifying" cross-examination multiple times i.e. before the enquiry panel and also the criminal court, which would deal with the rape trial.

The bench was hearing a plea filed by a police sub-inspector from Sangli police, who was stripped from his post and job after he was booked under rape charges along with POCSO for raping a minor girl. The dismissal orders were passed by Vishwas Nangre Patil, then special inspector general of police, who currently is the joint commissioner of police (law and order).

Aggrieved by the orders issued by Patil, the accused cop said the same is illegal as Patil didn't hold a mandatory enquiry as envisaged under the Bombay Police Act.

The cop pointed out that such an enquiry can only be dispensed if there are allegations of terrorism or sedition. At this, the bench said, "True, the offence is neither seditious nor terrorist act. However, it does not mean the offence is not equally grave and heinous."

"Basically, in the offence against the woman, the authority or the judicial forum should need to have victim / woman-centric approach. What the victim will go through during the enquiry if it is conducted and what is the effect and impact of such enquiry on victim is the most important material point," the bench said.

The bench further said that it is irrelevant to consider how grave or severe the offence is "but the mental condition and the trauma of the victim if she is required to depose repeatedly i.e. at the time of recording FIR, at the time of enquiry and again before the Court, is to be considered."

"To give account of such physical unwanted incident again and again before the different authorities is an ordeal for the victim. The officer (Patil) has rightly mentioned (in dismissal orders) that the victim would have to undergo the cross-examination at the time of enquiry and again she would be subjected to horrifying cross examination before the criminal court," the bench said.

As far as the contention that the accused cop has the right to know the charges is concerned, the bench said, "The delinquent officer has right to know the charges against him and he is to be given opportunity of hearing and clarify his charges, yet certain misconduct is such which becomes the issue of public interest/ public safety. Considering the nature of the offence and the person who has committed this offence himself is the protector of law and therefore the decision of dispensing with the enquiry is justified."

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