Media Activism: Case Study

Media activism refers to a situation where media specifically focuses on a particular issue and starts spreading awareness on it. Media activism aims to bring reforms in the society or the prevalent situation. There are various cases where media has taken up an issue and drawn the attention of the society towards it. Media played a significant role and forced the judiciary and the law and order agencies to undertake a fair trial and punish the guilty. There are a number of such cases, for instance, Jessica Lal, Priyadarshini Matto, Nitish Katara, BMW and recently in Ruchika Girhotra case. All these were high profile cases where the powerful tried to manipulate the evidence and influence the witnesses in their favour. The disclosure of facts to the general public by the media relating to each of these cases had been the key to the success. Though media raised some valid issues about the problems in our judicial system, it has also been criticised for conducting media trials. Many critics blame the electronic media for sensationalizing the information to allure more and more viewers. It has been tagged as only a corporate interested in making money through higher TRPs leading to higher advertisement profits. This could be true to a large extent. The presentation of each of these stories has been dramatic. When a five-year old boy, Prince fell into an open manhole the live coverage on channels made sure that everyone from the local MP, the Chief Minister, the district administration and the Army spared no effort to bring out the boy alive. Some people also termed it as activism of the elite. Despite all this print media exercised some caution and did not sensationalise the cases.

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Media Activism: Case Study
Such cases often trigger a discussion on how the media tramples on principles of natural justice, holds judgement in an open court, often doesn’t respect the sanctity of the law of the land and creates a situation when an accused is already held guilty without the verdict being pronounced. However, this does not happen in Ruchika’s case as Rathore has been already held guilty by the court. When the verdict came in the Ruchika Girhotra vs. S. P. S. Rathore case on December 21, 2009 and Rathore walked out of the court with a smile on his face he caught the attention of the media. After that media not only pursued the developments in the case but also focused on the minimal punishment and his immediate bail. Media not only covered the latest developments in the case but also highlighted the loop holes and corruption in the Indian criminal justice system. Nineteen years ago, S.P.S. Rathore, a senior police official in Haryana, molested Ruchika Girhotra after arranging to meet her at the local lawn tennis club, of which he was president. An internal police probe in 1990 into the assault recommended a case be filed but Rathore was promoted and his influence grew further when he was later named as the top police officer for the entire state. Ruchika, in the meantime, was expelled from her school. The expulsion, the family claims, was part of a campaign of intimidation and harassment designed to force the family to drop their complaint and prevent any prosecution of the policeman. According to the family, Ruchika’s brother Ashu was accused of theft and then abused in jail on Rathore’s orders. Tormented by the stress, Ruchika finally poisoned herself in 1993 at the age of 17. Her brother was released from jail soon after she died.

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Media Activism: Case Study
Nineteen years later, now court has held Rathore guilty of molestation and sentenced him to six months in jail and a 1000 rupee fine. S.P.S. Rathore’s counsel claimed before the trial court that media played a negative role in the case and published news items selectively in collusion with the complainant party. The judge, while convicting and sentencing Rathore, took note of his grievance that he felt mental stress because of the media trial. But the judge held that the court had concern only with the facts and circumstances available on record and not with what any other agency reported about the accused or the victim. He also made it clear that Rathore’s grievance could not be a ground for taking a liberal view on the quantum of sentence. Indeed, the national media were guilty of ignoring this case and its ramifications all these years. Obviously, whatever little coverage of the case was there in the local media had no impact on the judge. Still, the question raised by Rathore cannot be dismissed easily. There is genuine concern that any prejudicial publication or broadcast in the media about a person after his or her arrest may cause substantial prejudice in the criminal proceedings that must be taken to be imminent, irrespective of whether the person is released later. However, it is the media’s steadfast investigation that brought to light several aspects of Rathore’s highhandedness, which had gone unreported earlier, let alone be investigated by the police and prosecuted in a court of law. The question about the extent of media restraint in the case is important and needs to be answered in the light of the current legal position. In a situation where fresh FIRs have been filed against him and his arrest is imminent, it can be asked whether the media can continue to cover the cases against Rathore with a perceived prejudice against him. Section 3 (2) of the Contempt of Court Act, 1971, read with its explanation, excludes from
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Media Activism: Case Study
criminal contempt all publications made before the filing of a charge sheet or challan in court or before the issue of summons or warrant, even if such publications interfere or tend to interfere with the course of justice. Although it is pointed out that imminent criminal proceedings following the arrest of a person should be the starting point of restraint by the media, the law as it stands today favours taking into account the filing of a charge sheet to consider when the media ought to restrain itself, in order not to restrict unduly the freedom of expression during the period from the filing of FIRs and arrest of a person to the filing of charge sheets. The Law Commission’s 200th Report (2006) on Trial by Media points out that in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, any publication made in the print or broadcast on the electronic media after a person’s arrest, stating that the person arrested has previous convictions or that he has confessed to the crime during investigation or that he is indeed guilty, and the publication of his photograph are treated as prejudicial and as violative of due process required for a suspect who has to face a criminal trial. The Law Commission observed: “If media exercises an unrestricted or rather unregulated freedom in publishing information about a criminal case and prejudices the mind of the public and those who are to adjudicate on the guilt of the accused and if it projects a suspect or an accused as if he has already been adjudged guilty well before the trial in court, there can be serious prejudice to the accused. In fact, even if ultimately the person is acquitted after the due process in courts, such an acquittal may not help the accused to rebuild his lost image in society.” The Law Commission’s concerns are understandable, but the process of India’s criminal justice system is lengthy and its many flaws favour the accused rather than the victim. Therefore, there is a need to balance the
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rights of the accused to a fair trial with the rights of the media and the public to expose these flaws.

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Review of Literature
William Hoynes in an essay ‘Media Research and Media Activism’ writes that since the early 1980s, social movement researchers have paid increasing attention to the relationship between media and social movements. Todd Gitlin’s The Whole World Is Watching (1980) focused on the relationship between the U.S news media and the “new left”, examining the role of news in the rise and ultimate demise of the student left in the 1960s. In The Strategy of Social Protest (1990), Gamson argues that mass media are a key factor in analysing post – World War II social movements, and researcher interested in how both media and movements “frame” issues have been particularly attentive to what Gamson and Wolfsfeld (1993) call the “transactional” relationship between news media and social movements. In exploring this relationship, social movement theorists have defined media as potentially valuable resources for movement organisations, looked at the media as part of political opportunity structures, and identified media as a terrain of political and cultural contestation. Media, then, are both cultural forces that shape the field of mobilisation and an arena of political activism itself. And neither movement activists nor journalists are passive in this relationship. One of the real contributions of social movement scholarship is this illumination of the push-pull of media-movement relations, which highlights both the strategic agency of activists and the journalistic norms and practices that do so much to shape media coverage of social movements. If social movement scholars have shown that media matter to movements, media researchers have demonstrated that activism is linked to the organisation of the media industry.

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Media Activism: Case Study
Various people use the Net to try to effect social, cultural or political change – from hackers, culture jammers and corporate saboteurs to established political parties. It’s a huge terrain – there are Net campaigns around the world and around the corner. The Internet is an increasingly crucial part of broader media activism. The Internet is also being incorporated into more routine aspects of daily life, as virtual and physical activities become increasingly integrated. In a book Understanding Community Media edited by Kevin Howley the author writes Community media are but one aspect of a field of democratic media activism that encompasses a range of actors and activities, including media reform and public interest advocacy groups, cultural interventions (popularly known as “culture jamming”), professional and trade

organisations, and media literacy programs, as well as news and media “watchdog” groups. While it is unclear whether these disparate activities constitute a coherent social movement, it is plain to see that there is growing, worldwide discontent with media structures, practices, and

performance. Still, the specific issues and concerns taken up by democratic media activism can vary dramatically. For instance, in societies making the transition from authoritarian rule to liberal democracy across Eastern Europe and the global South, media democratisation often means removing direct and indirect forms of political censorship, opening up the media system to private ownership, and adopting Western models of journalism and entertainment formats. But, as has been well documented, democratic media activism in established democracies is also on the rise. In the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, for example, citizens’ movements directed against

commercialisation, repeated press failures, and government and corporate

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Media Activism: Case Study
misinformation campaigns as well as media consolidation are increasingly commonplace. In Asian Americans and the Media by Kent A. Ono and Vincent N. Pham mention a case of Asian American activism. The protest of the Broadway premiere of Miss Saigon in 1991 continues to be regarded as a landmark instance of Asian American activism against derogatory representations. Cameron Mackintosh, the show’s producer, asked Jonathan pryce, a Caucasian British actor, to reprise his role as the Vietnamese pimp in the New York production. However, Asian American activists protested the yellowface portrayal by Pryce, in addition to other Western

misrepresentation of Asians, such as the stereotype that Asians are submissive “Orientals”, that men are sexually impotent, and other Orientalist depictions of Asians appearing in the production. The protest of Miss Saigon was both activism of traditional kind and media activism. It dealt centrally with the politics of representation, of who plays what, and who has the right to play what, but it also had to do with the medium of theatre as a forum for the communication of ideas and its pedagogical and informational role in educating theatre-goers about Asian Americans. If the various Miss Saigon protests were taken purely as an instance of Asian American activism, it would be fair to say that they failed, as they did not stop the show and did not, in the end, alter the employment of actors. Yoshikawa concludes, however, that the protesters never thought they would be able close down the show (1994). Thus, while ending the production would have been ideal, the goal to challenge stereotypes and offensive casting, to shift the meanings of representations in the production, to provide an Asian American perspective on the show, to call for a more complex and nuanced version of Asian Americans, and to do all of this publicity, was itself a significant achievement.
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Media Activism: Case Study
Media activism is not a new concept in India. Even in pre-Independence India, there have been several attempts at using the media for bringing institutional reforms and as a channel for popular protest. A number of anticolonial institutions for instance, Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) used it to mobilize public opinion against British rule. During the 1940s and 1950s, political theatre was used by the anti-Brahmin movement in South India. This was followed by a massive upsurge in the use of popular theatre for democratic reform in the 1970s. Now it is widely used throughout India by women’s groups, the environmental movement, Dalit organisations (NGOs) involved in social change. Popular theatre is an inexpensive medium, and provided that it is adapted to local conditions, expressions, and rhetorical styles, it can be a potent tool for awareness raising and community organising. In the state of Tamil Nadu in South India, street theatre (Terrakoothu) is routinely used by NGOs with varying degrees of success in issues related to health, family planning, AIDS awareness, and interfaith and Dalit solidarity or rights issues. In 2006 justice for Jessica was not just a slogan, but it became an enigmatic campaign undertaken by national media. Ranjith Thankappan writes, in an article ‘Media justice: activism or elitism?’, that civil society was exposed to a plethora of activism harnessed by media and judiciary that tend to project an erroneous belief that justice could be attained only through such hype. The essay focuses on the myth of media activism in the context of India’s failed civil society and its monolithic, homogenous practices of constructing socio-cultural myths. A comparative analysis of media/judicial activisms with respect to upper caste/class India and the lack of it with respect to Dalit/Subaltern India would lead us to understand how problematic the secular, modern and civil libertarian spaces are in the Indian context.

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Media Activism: Case Study
Media justice is a hypothetical term used to denote the contrived media space allotted for social groups to engage in public discourse. It is hypothetical in the sense that the term exists as a theoretical trope, tangibility of which is possible relatively at theoretical level. It is an accrued dominant narrative and its practice evolve as corollary to the ideological positioning of media as an agency of the culturally dominant. Media, by and large encompasses the idea of an ideal public sphere, especially in highly political societies. However, a close examination of the same would bring forth the problematic terrain of these spheres. Rather than a public sphere it limits to a caste/community sphere where various caste/community voices are raised for fair share of power. Thus, public sphere (therefore media also) could be problematic if caste is introduced as an analytical category in the Indian context. The secular and rational face of national media was exposed in the way the marginalized sections of the society and their issues were represented. The media representations of Dalits/Adivasis/OBCs/Muslims in national media were in consonance with the majoritarian Hindu/Brahminical imaginations. The narratives have shown a hegemonic construction of these categories which in the larger historical context tend to demoralize and challenge the very existence of these groups in the national culture. Jessica and Priyadarshini may become a hot debate for this civil society, but it is a difficult preposition for those majorities falling on the other side of the caste/class order. The Kherlanji Dalit Massacre was a non-issue for the national media until some Marathi local newspapers picked it up and sensationalized. No candles burnt in front of India Gate, New Delhi for the unfortunate victims of Kherlanji. No celebrity vouched support for the victims. No

newspaper/television channel campaigned for them. No columnist expressed
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solidarity with the victims as seen in the case of anti-reservation/proJessica-Priyadarshini media campaigns. These pre-planned campaigns were nothing less than political statements of the elite upper caste minority dominating the cultural ethos of a civilization. This was also evident in the infamous Nithari Serial Killings of children and teenage girls at the city fringe of NOIDA in India. The elitist middle class who thronged with candles for Jessica and Priyadarshini Matto did not come out of their houses in support of the parents and relatives whose sons and daughters were brutally murdered in a real life psycho thriller. The accused were a rich industrialist and his faithful servant. Right from the beginning the Police, vested with the power of enforcing law and order in the country, favoured the accused and victimized those who lost their dear and near. Newspapers have reported that the accused were once arrested against a complaint, but later released after receiving bribe. In these cases, civil society and media showed less interest and its activism was non-existent. It never initiated a verbal/visual campaign for justice as it did in the case for Jessica, Priyadarshini Matto and against Reservation policy. In an article ‘What position should the media take when human rights and security interests collide?’ Sevanti Ninan wrote when internal security and human rights collide, as they increasingly will in a country with serious Naxal and militancy problems, it creates a challenge for the media. Where should it position itself? With how much conviction and persistence will it press for adherence to legal norms when the victims of police high-handedness are depicted as working against the State? And even if it does make up its mind, how much activism can it sustain when the victim is not conveniently in Delhi, or nearby, as has been the case with all recent successful examples of media activism? And an older man engaged in grassroots activism rather
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than an attractive, non-political, urban young man or woman who was killed, as in the case of Jessica Lal, Nitish Kataria and Priyadarshini Mattoo? Three people in different parts of the country were languishing in jail. Binakayak Sen, the 1970s Vellore alumnus who had been working in the Chattisgarh area long before that State was formed, Govindan Kutty, editor of a Maoist publication called People's March, who was arrested on December 19, 2007 from a place near Kochi and lodged in a sub-jail in Alwaye, and Prashant Rahi who was a journalist for 17 years in the Uttarakhand region before being arrested in December 2007 from Dehra Dun (there are conflicting reports about the actual date). Each of them was accused of Maoist involvement and the variety of Internet and newspaper reports on them reflect varying degrees of acceptance of this charge. Invasion of Privacy The television free for all over Sania Mirza and Shoab Malik's engagement woes exemplifies what Amartya Sen once described as the media's propensity for targeted invasion of privacy. They were rowdy at the press conference, they clambered over the wall of the Mirza family home, they pursued the family making the allegations for leads, and have been happy to go to town with anything they got. It also happened in the case of Arushi Talwar murder case where media took up the role of policemen and judge. Indira Jaisingh in her article ‘Driven by Sensationalism’ wrote there were channels which went to the extent of recreating what they imagined to be the case, a sexual encounter between Arushi and the domestic servant under the blankets. Email exchanged between Aarushi and her friends which came into the possession of the Police were released to the press and displayed over and over again to convey the impression that she was of loose character, forgetting that she was no more than 13 years of age. There was nothing short of a media trial
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taking place here. And while some may voluntarily submit to media trials, this was a case where there was an on going police investigation and the matter was sub judice and should not have been reported in the manner it was. There is all over an unholy nexus between the police and the press. Much of what passes off as investigative journalism is nothing but press hand outs. The police release premature opinions to come out looking good in investigating crime and the press laps it up as an “exclusive” story. Both are happy. The law needs to step in here and hold the police responsible for damaging reputations and prevent them from sharing investigation reports with the press. Apart from violating the fundamental rights of citizens, the press also here violated its own journalistic ethics. The Press Council of India in its norms forbids the press from publishing private details of individuals unless relevant to public interest. The norm forbids the press from divulging details about any person in a manner which raises doubts about the chastity and privacy of a woman. All these norms were violated in the Aarushi case. That apart, even a dead person cannot be criminally defamed and Aarushi was quite clearly defamed by a substantial section of the media. Yet another law, the Indecent Representation of Women Act, was also violated. So under-used is this law that the press is probably unaware of its existence. It is one law which requires the press to report on women in a responsible manner that does not violate their dignity. This law is all too often used only to seize pornographic material, though it is meant for all manner of reporting in news and advertising. Media activism and Trial According to Soli Sorabjee there is a basic distinction between media activism and trial by media. If a prosecution gets bogged down for an
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inordinately long period, the media is certainly entitled, nay obliged to, probe and expose the causes for the delay. For example, the deliberate lethargic pace of the prosecution, frequent adjournments occasioned by absence of the public prosecutors or delaying tactics resorted to by the accused or frequent transfer of the presiding judicial officer in the midst of the trial and so on. The media, by publicising these facts, acts as a catalyst which is conducive to the speedy progress of the trial. Media activism of this nature is commendable. However, once the trial has commenced, the media has no right to pronounce upon the innocence or guilt of the persons involved according to its perception and knowledge of the law and criminal procedure.

Determination of the guilt or innocence of a person under our constitutional scheme is the function of the courts, which should not be usurped by the media. Besides, incalculable harm can be done to a person’s reputation by prematurely judging him or her guilty. In this context (Jessica Lal murder case), the observations of a Division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices P. Sathasivam and Swatanter Kumar in its recent judgment are instructive. “Presumption of innocence of an accused is a legal presumption and should not be destroyed at the very threshold through the process of media trial and that too when the investigation is pending. In that event, it will be opposed to the very basic rule of law and would impinge upon the protection granted to an accused under Article 21”. The Bench cautioned that, “Every effort should be made by the print and electronic media to ensure that the distinction between trial by media and informative media is always maintained”. Media will render great service if it observes the lakshman rekha charted by the Supreme Court.

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The objective of this research is to figure out the media activism in Ruchika Girhotra molestation case. The unrelenting publicity and pressure from the media has forced prosecutors to file more charges against Ruchika’s molester–charges her family has been requesting for years. There has been substantial coverage of the Rathore case in the national media, both electronic and print, since December 21, when the trial court delivered its judgment. Media reports focused not only on the judgement of the court which held S. P. S. Rathore guilty of Ruchika’s molestation but also on the amount of punishment and his immediate bail. The objective here is to find out the following: 1. What aspects of the case were covered in the reports? 2. What were the other issues raised in the reports related to the case? 3. What were the immediate consequences of media activism in this case? 4. Did any reforms take place after media gave so much attention to it? 5. What role media played when the hearings of the case were taking place, when the judgement was passed and thereafter?

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Research Methodology
For conducting content analysis four national daily newspapers, namely, The Indian Express, The Hindu, Hindustan Times and The Times of India were selected. Articles related to the coverage of Ruchika Girhotra molestation case were collected from December22, 2009 to January 22, 2010. On the basis of newspaper reports qualitative content analysis was done. Through this research an attempt has been made to find out the aspects covered by the news reports and their frequency of appearing in the newspapers. The research also tried to trace the immediate consequences of these reports on the administrative and legal machinery.

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Content Analysis
The following data was collected on the basis of the reports published in The Indian Express, The Hindu, The Times of India and Hindustan Times from December 22, 2009 to January 22, 2010.
Date Contents 1. Description of the case & verdict 22 Dec 26 Dec 27 Dec 29 Dec 2. 3. Rathore’s immediate bail Aradhana’s statement in court 22 Dec 22 Dec 29 Dec 4. 5. Handing over of the investigation to CBI Moving out of Ruchika’s family from Chandigarh 22Dec 22 Dec 26 Dec 28 Dec 6. Harassment of Ruchika & the family 22 Dec 23 Dec 24 Dec 25 Dec 26 Dec 27 Dec 28 Dec 30 Dec 31 Dec 7. Case was taken up by various courts in 22 Dec 28 Dec 22 Dec 22 Dec 22 Dec 24 Dec IE The Hindu TOI HT

different cities 8. 9. 10. Reaction on Rathore’s punishment Family tried to avoid public gaze Girhotra’s reaction to the verdict, accused politicians of shielding Rathore

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25 Dec 26 Dec 11. Suspension of Ruchika from the Haryana Lawn Tennis Association(headed by Rathore) 22 Dec 24 Dec 25 Dec 12. Expulsion from the school without citing any reason or for not submitting the fees 22 Dec 23 Dec 24 Dec 25 Dec 26 Dec 28 Dec 29 Dec 30 Dec 31 Dec 13. Arrest of her brother, Ashu, thrashed by police, his illegal detention for more than 2 months, forced to sign blank papers, his acquittal by trail courts 22 Dec 24 Dec 25 Dec 26 Dec 27 Dec 28 Dec 29 Dec 30 Dec 31 Dec 3 Jan 14. Lacuna in 150 yr old Indian Penal Code 23 Dec 24 Dec 25 Dec 26 Dec 27 Dec 28 Dec 31 Dec 15. Law Commission in its 172 recommended a

report in 2000 recognizing &

23 Dec 24 Dec 26 Dec 28 Dec


penalizing child sexual abuse (not redressed the issue)

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16. No counselling facility at the school that could prevent her from committing suicide 17. Defense plea: Rathore was a meritorious 23 Dec 23 Dec

officer, got many awards 18. Issue reverberated in ( in zero hour) Rajya Sabha with CPM’s Brinda Karat demanding a reform in the legal system to ensure timely justice in such cases in future 19. Om P. Chautala govt Promoted Rathore to the post of DGP 23 Dec 24 Dec 27 Dec 20. Why Rathore wasn’t charged with abetment of Ruchika’s suicide by the trail court, section 306( maximum 10 yrs punishment) 21. Rathore charged with Section 354 with 23 Dec 25 Dec 30 Dec 1 Jan 10 22. The Punjab & Haryana high court in 2002 upheld Rathore’s revision petition challenging the charge of abetment of suicide. 23. Former Haryana CM Om Prakash Chautala said punishment wasn’t too harsh 24. Chautala denied reports that Rathore was 23 Dec 26 Dec 23 Dec 25 Dec 27 Dec 23 Dec 23Dec 28 Dec 23 Dec

outraging Ruchika’s modesty

promoted to DGP during his tenure as CM, claimed that the cop was promoted during Congress CM Bhajan Lal’s tenure & removed from his post in 2000 when he (chautala) was CM 25. NHRC’s displeasure over Rathore’s continuance as DGP after CBI charged him in the case 26. Reaction of the National Commission for

23 Dec

23 Dec 24 Dec

Women, NCW decided to form a committee to examine the Ruchika case, likely to file suit

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seeking civil damages for the family 27. Anand Prakash plans to fight for Rathore’s conviction for abetment to suicide 28. Legal experts blamed police for lapses 23 Dec 25 Dec 23 Dec 28 Dec 30 Dec 29. Delayed justice 23 Dec 24 Dec 25 Dec 26 Dec 28 Dec 30. Haryana CM asked DGP R.R. Singh to inquire into the matter, submission of the report home minister kept the file with him for more than 6 months, Chautala appointed R.K Hooda as DGP who recommended a against Rathore, departmental enquiry from 23 Dec 24 Dec 25 Dec 27 Dec



political circles 31. Anand Prakash was given premature retirement after being demoted to the post of 23 Dec

superintending engineer from chief engineer, also filed a case against his pre-mature

retirement 32. Punjab & Haryana High Court judge’s opinion: justice not done, can’t do much now, felt that Rathore should have been charged for 24 Dec

abetment to suicide, 33. Case of police high headedness & political protectionism 24 Dec 26 Dec 27 Dec 28 Dec 30 Dec 34. Six months imprisonment not enough: Experts 24 Dec 25 Dec 26 Dec

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28 Dec 1 Jan 10 35. Threats & pressure on DGP R R Singh, dharna outside his office & home 36. Comparison of Rathore’s case with DGP K P S Gill, both accused of molesting women, let off with light punishments 37. Delay in lodging complaint 24 Dec 25 Dec 26 Dec 29 Dec 30 Dec 38. Rathore faces an appeal in the SC accusing him of employing his children’s music teacher & horse riding instructors as storekeepers in the Home Guards & Civil Defence department in 1995 39. Contradictions in Rathore’s affidavits & 24 Dec 24 Dec 24 Dec 25 Dec 24 Dec

statements on various occasions helped the prosecution prove his guilt 40. Centre looks at way to strip Rathore of his police medal & decided to ask the CBI to start groundwork for an appeal for an enhanced sentence, also decided to serve a show-cause notice to the disgraced officer asking why he should get full pension after being convicted by the CBI court 41. Family will move HC to re-open the case, demanding addition charge of abetment to suicide( Section 306, the maximum punishment is 10yrs) 42. Political blame game 25 Dec 26 Dec 27 Dec 28 Dec 25 Dec 26 Dec 27 Dec 25 Dec 26 Dec 28 Dec

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43. Budding tennis player, after her molestation she remained confined to her house & 25 Dec 29 Dec 30 Dec 25 Dec

depressed 44. Former Haryana home secretary J K Duggal said that politicians had not allowed registration of a case against convicted cop in 1990 45. Ruchika was bright & bubbly student; after the incident she lived in recluse & gradually slipped into depression 46. Birbal Das Dhalia, who as Home secretary of Haryana during the rule of the Chautala govt. in 1999 recommended the name of Rathore for a President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service, defended the decision, saying “there was no charge-sheet” against him; Dahalia also served as Principal Secretary to the CM, back with Chautala as a senior member of the INLD & its Parliamentary Affairs Committee 47. Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily said the Ruchika matter needed to be “revisited”, move to strip Rathore of the Police Medal 48. Ruchika’s family has decided to claim

25 Dec

26 Dec

26 Dec 31 Dec

26 Dec 27 Dec

compensation not only from Rathore but also Rs 1 crore the State of Haryana 49. Former PM Atal B Vajpayee was moved to tears when he heard about the molestation, said former Union Minister, Shanta Kumar 50. Rathore had gone to the extent of doctoring the report mentioning the cause of Ruchika’s death, projected that the cause of her death was consumption of slimming pills

26 Dec

26 Dec 27 Dec 28 Dec 30 Dec 31 Dec 5 Jan


Entire trial was video-recorded & these tapes are most sought after, district court has

26 Dec 27 Dec

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recieved a dozen odd RTI, evidence strictly guarded 52. Initiating the process of taking away the police medal of former Haryana DGP Rathore, Centre has decided to place the matter before the Central Police Awards Committee, also served show cause notice 53. Rathore could not be tried for abetment to suicide of Ruchika because CBI had actually opposed the addition of this charge before a Chandigarh trial court 54. Aman Gupta, husband of Aradhana; birth of their daughter changed everything; Aman 27 Dec 27 Dec 28 Dec 29 Dec 27 Dec 28 Dec 30 Dec

jumped headlong into the fight 55. Women defending their husbands; Abha 27 Dec

Rathore, wife of Rathore, fought case for him; this is one of the 4 recent cases where wives have stood by their high profile husbands booked for sex crimes; actor Shiney Ahuja’s wife cried hoarse over her husband’s

implication; former Punjab legislator Gaganjit Singh Barnala’s wife Harpreet didn’t leave his side when he was accused of raping his domestic help; former Haryana inspector

general of police Ravi Kant Sharma’s better half, Madhu, braved public ire when her

husband was

booked & convicted for the

murder of Shivani Bhatnagar 56. Slow & infirm judicial system; fix the judicial system, more courts, more judges 27 Dec 28 Dec 30 Dec 57. CBI top officer, former CBI Joint Director R M Singh, claimed that Rathore had tried to 28 Dec

influence & even made attempt to bribe him, as a result he was taken off the case

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58. Centre may soon come up with a policy to revoke police & gallantry medals awarded to officers convicted by a court 59. Rathore lawyer claimed the hype created in the Ruchika case could not be sustained in the 28 Dec 31 Dec 28 Dec 29 Dec

light of the facts 60. Those who shielded Rathore must be punished 28 Dec 29 Dec 30 Dec 61. Ruchika’s school faces probe 29 Dec 30 Dec 62. NHRC would approach Punjab & Haryana HC to register case against Rathore for implicating Ruchika’s brother in false cases 63. A local NGO, World Human Rights Protection Council, has filed a PIL in the Punjab & Haryana HC demanding trial of Rathore under Section 305 of IPC, in which, if held guilty, an individual can be awarded death penalty 64. All the false cases against Ashu, brother of Ruchika, were registered at the behest of the then Ambala SP K P Singh, who is currently IG (training) with the Haryana Police Academy, but no action has been initiated against him 65. Haryana govt, CBI can demand re-opening of case say experts 66. Aradhana opened an e-mail id, inviting people to join the campaign for justice for Ruchika 67. The Union home ministry circular, likely to be sent out next week, would ask states to ensure all complaints received at police stations are treated as FIRs. 68. There can be no re-investigation into the Ruchika case, at best SC can direct further investigation or consider a plea for 29 Dec 29 Dec 30 Dec 29 Dec 30 Dec 29 Dec 29 Dec 1 Jan 10 29 Dec 29 Dec

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enhancement of punishment for Rathore, for SC recently ruled that re-investigation was

forbidden in law 69. Two new FIRs registered against Rathore & other police officers for allegedly slapping false cases against Ruchika’s brother, charges 30 Dec 31 Dec 2 Jan

include attempt to murder & doctoring the post-mortem report 70. Need for police reforms 28 Dec 30 Dec 3 Jan 71. NCW demanded filing of fresh cases in 30 Dec

connection with the molestation case, charges should include abetment to suicide, attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy, public servant disobeying law, framing an incorrect document, giving false evidence, & criminal intimidation 72. Centre directed the CBI to quickly appeal for enhancing 6 month jail term for Rathore & find way of filing fresh case against him for forcing 14yr old Ruchika to commit suicide 73. Villagers from Bhadaur in Raipur Rani block thronged the residence of the Prakashes to protest against Rathore who allegedly grabbed their land 74. Centre said it would introduce a new law to set up fast track courts for time-bound decisions in cases of sexual offence 75. Moily said that after the cabinet nod the ministry intends to introduce the bill in 30 Dec 31 Dec 1 Jan 10 30 Dec 30 Dec 30 Dec

Parliament, the bill-which is likely to amend the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973-is understood to be named the Sexual Offences (Special Courts )Bill 76. CBSE is ready with an advisory warning schools

30 Dec

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not to take extreme measures against 31 Dec

students, advisory will say that schools must aim to “improve” students, & punishment that could impact student’s future should be avoided 77. A similar incident, wife of former police 30 Dec 31 Dec

constable from Dausa district of Rajasthan has been struggling for justice after she was

allegedly raped by a police DIG, Madhukar Tandon, 13yrs ago (hunt for Tandon begins after reports) 78. RR Singh said that if summoned he would not shy away from deposing in court on Rathore’s attempt to bribe him 79. Only three states have ever tried to plug the loopholes in the molestation law while 30 Dec 30 Dec

Parliament has done nothing to fix them, & of those three states, Andhra Pradesh is the only one to have actually amended Section 354 IPC, when it enhanced the maximum sentence for molestation from two years to seven years & introduced a minimum term of 5 years, other 2 states are Orissa & Madhya Pradesh 80. Centre plans to build in checks & balances in its proposal to prod states to ensure the police registers all complaints as FIRs by proposing punitive action against cops who fail to register cases as well as deterrents for false cases intended to harass innocents. Apart from 30 Dec

amendments to the existing laws, Centre is also considering proposals like e-registration of FIRs through public kiosks to encourage

transparency & better access to the police system. 81. District & sessions court in Panchkula turned down an interim bail plea by former Haryana 31 Dec 9 Jan

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DGP Rathore 82. Haryana govt formed a special investigation (SIT) team to probe the Ruchika case 83. An earlier probe ordered by the Punjab & Haryana HC into the allegations of Ruchika’s brother Ashu had been quashed by the SC 84. Notwithstanding the euphoria generated by the slapping of 2 fresh FIRs against Rathore, legal experts feel the move may not yield any results 85. On the second last day of 2009, the govt decided to notify a landmark amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code, giving victims the right to appeal against a court order acquitting an accused, or convicting the accused of a lesser offence. Under the amended Sec 372 CrPc, the victim will not need the permission of any law enforcement or prosecuting agency to appeal a court order. However, the Ministry has decided not to notify two amendments that the lawyers had opposed strongly – to CrPc 31 Dec 1 Jan 31 Dec 6 Jan 31 Dec 12 Jan 31 Dec

Sections 41 (A) & 309. The amendment to Sec 41(A) barred police from arresting an accused for an offence that carries a maximum

punishment of seven years without first issuing him/her a “notice of appearance”. The

amendment to Sec 309, aimed at speeding up trials, disallowed the granting of adjournments on flimsy grounds. An important amendment that will be notified is Section 357A, making it mandatory for state governments to draw up a scheme in coordination with the Centre to provide funds for compensation to victims or their dependents. Victims will be entitled to compensation if the offender is not caught & tried. Another amendment – to Section 275 –

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provides for video recording of witness

statements in case of offences carrying a punishment of over two years 86. 87. 87. Media running a parallel trial, Rathore tell court SIT to summon former DGP for questioning Union Law minister said the Ruchika case has wounded the national psyche& it should serve as an example to make the laws tougher so that no one is allowed to get away with a heinous crime 89. Ruchika’s family & friends are now seeking the death penalty for Rathore 90. Ruchika’s family meets Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, discussed on the possibility of reopening the case 91. Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram 1 Jan 31 Dec 31 Dec 31 Dec 31 Dec 31 Dec

expressed his unhappiness over the manner in which charges were framed & the trail was conducted in the case 92. Aradhana’s story is one of determination & courage 93. 94. Ruchika case gives police reforms a push If the proposed Judicial Standards & 1 Jan 1 Jan 1 Jan

Accountability Bill, 2009, comes into effect, a mechanism to monitor laggard judges will be set rolling 95. Interviews of NCR-based families of other 1 Jan

sexual assault victims reveal that over 85% of them were regularly threatened when they filed complaints 96. CBI announced that it would appeal for a stiffer sentence against Rathore 97. The government will soon make molestation a non-bailable offence, increasing the maximum imprisonment for the crime from 2 to 5 years 1 Jan 1 Jan

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98. Anand Prakash said that Haryana’s special investigation purpose 99. Breaking his silence Ruchika’s brother Ashu demanded that Rathore should be put behind bars 100. A senior police officer, who was heading the CBI probe into the Ruchika molestation case, sought to dismiss allegations that the agency had botched it up to shield her molester & fellow police officer Rathore 101. 102. Case re-opened Public & media pressure have forced to relook at cases where the accused were powerful enough to subvert the justice. These include the Jessical Lall, Nitish Katara & Priyadarshini Mattoo cases 103. 104. Rathore got interim bail till January 7 The government has decided to review 2 Jan 2 Jan 1 Jan 1 Jan 5 Jan 1 Jan 1Jan team (SIT) would serve no 1 Jan

outdated laws to plug loopholes in the legal system 105. School says Ruchika wasn’t expelled, father says she was, Father Thomas spokesman for Chandigarh Shimla Docese, which runs the school said “her name was struck off the attendance register because of non-payment of school fee for six months continuously...” 106. Official data shows that crimes against women are rising faster than any other crime 107. Centre indicated the possibility of CBI taking over the investigation of the fresh case of abetment to suicide against Rathore A district judge has been the victim of the 108. snail-paced judiciary for the last 10 months. In April last year, CBI & the SC gave a clean chit 2 Jan 2 Jan 3 Jan 2 Jan 2 Jan

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to Kanpur district judge Subhash Chander in the Rs 23 crore PF scam. Despite proving his innocence, the senior DJ continues to be under suspicion 109. A recent study by the UK government of rape cases in the country shows that a majority of convictions in rape cases are from admission of guilt & not because of successful trial as the delay in investigation & the social stigma related with sexual offences often force the victims to withdraw the case. It’s very crucial to minimise delays 110. PM Manmohan Singh was appraised of 2 Jan 2 Jan

developments in Ruchika molestation case by women & child development minister Krishna Tirath 111. Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda said he sympathized with the family of Ruchika & promised that the special investigation team would complete the probe at the earliest 112. The name Veena Girhotra surfaced again when Rathore’s counsel Abha informed the court that Veena was Ruchika’s stepmother 113. Abha Rathore alleged that Anand Prakash has a family with “shady character” 114. The Advocate General of the Haryana 2 Jan 3 Jan 2 Jan 2 Jan 2 Jan 3 Jan

Government has held the sentence of 6 month jail for Rathore in Ruchika molestation case as “most inadequate” while justifying to go in appeal against the sentence to get it enhanced, strongly suggested that the accused could be made to compensate the victimized family from his pocket 115. Abha alleged that the complainants had no proof to back their allegations of “attempt to

2 Jan

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murder & criminal conspiracy” 116. Hooda indicated that an FIR under abetment to suicide complaint brother filed may two be days back by 3 Jan


registered once

investigations are completed 117. Principal of the Sacred Heart Senior Secondary School arrived for a magisterial probe into Ruchika’s expulsion from school 118. To save himself from the clutches of law Rathore is now finding loopholes in various sections of IPC slapped by Panchkula police against him in the two fresh FIRs 119. 12 chargesheet most were filed against in Anand others 3 Jan 3 Jan 3 Jan




exonerated 120. The probe has unearthed evidence to establish that the School singled out the molestation victim when it removed her name from the rolls 121. Continuing with its measures to make the country’s legal system women-friendly, the government is set to amend the “genderbiased” laws (Divorce & property laws) 122. Rathore will lose medal, so will other convicted officers 123. Three days after Ruchika’s brother filed 5 Jan 5 Jan 5 Jan 4 Jan

complaint with the cops for abetment of suicide against Rathore, the Haryana government is yet to register an FIR, despite Union HM P Chidambaram saying that action would be taken once the Girhotras file their complaint 124. Rathore accused Bansi Lal of colluding with Madhu Prakash 125. Taking suo motu cognizance of Ruchika 5 Jan 5 Jan

molestation case, the Punjab & Haryana HC has said that it was high time the cases involving

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politicians, bureaucrates, cops & other

influential persons be tried by fast-track courts for speedy justice 126. Media must not play judge in Rathore case as charges of abetment to suicide & obstructing justice are yet to be proved 127. The police registered a fresh FIR against 6 Jan 5 Jan 10 Jan

Rathore for abetting the suicide of Ruchika 128. A show cause notice has been served on Rathore by the Ministry of Home Affairs for withholding his pension purse following his conviction 129. Action against Rathore has revived hopes of a 92 year old woman, whose son & son-in-law were allegedly set on fire 16 years ago on the orders of controversial Punjab Police officer S. S. Saini 130. KPS Gill a convict, strip him of Padma Shri: Rupan Deol who fought a case of sexual harassment against him 131. Global Human Rights Council & the VHP have demanded the Chandigarh administration 6 Jan 6 Jan 6 Jan 6 Jan

withdraw the state medal awarded to Ruchika’s school principal, Sister Sebastina for her

achievements in the field of academics 132. In a case SC has ruled that the abetment charges have to be complimentary to the temperament of the victim which varied from person to person. Conviction is possible only if the accused actually made a positive move to push the victim to take his or her own life 133. 134. SC: A case can be probed at any stage Cops who tortured Ashu also named in fresh FIR 135. Catholic groups regret Ruchika’s expulsion 6 Jan 6 Jan 6 Jan 6 Jan

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136. Punjab &Haryana HC refused to entertain 7 Jan

Rathore’s plea demanding immediate hearing of a petition seeking to quash the new FIR charging him with abetment to suicide 137. 138. In 2005 Girhotra said Veena was his wife Ruchika school principal delayed probe, says government 139. School threw out Ruchika under pressure, report says no other student expelled for not paying fees 140. Court lashes out at cops for delay in 8 Jan 8 Jan 7 Jan 7 Jan

investigation 141. Girhotra’s character questionable: Abha. In court Abha said that S Girhotra & Veena – described as Ruchika’s governess – slept in the same room 142. Punjab & Haryana HC issued notice to the Centre, the Haryana government, the CBI & Rathore on a PIL, seeking a probe into the expulsion of the girl 143. Local court was aghast at the “baffling & disgusting” attitude of the state government in not filing a reply pertaining to the bail plea 144. Another Ruchika surfaces in Gahaziabad. 9 Jan 9 Jan 8 Jan 8 Jan

Suicide by 15yr old after rape ordeal 145. 146. SIT not to arrest Rathore for now Rathore’s offences cast spine-chilling & hairraising impact: Additional District & Sessions judge Sanjive Jindal 147. Haryana police arrested Gajendra Singh on whose testimony the police had booked 10 Jan 9 Jan 9 Jan

Ruchika’s brother Ashu 148. Rathore defended school, targeted Ruchika’s father in a reply to a questionnaire sent by inquiry officer 10 Jan

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149. Rathore allegedly used Ruchika’s expulsion 10 Jan

from school to weaken the initial inquiry into the molestation allegations by portraying her as a “loose character girl” 150. Veena, described as Girhotra’s second wife & a former governess of the Girhotra family, has told the SIT that she married Girhotra in Nov 1990, separated 5 years later 151. Classic example of the powerful exploiting legal loopholes, says CJI 152. Did Rathore meet Girhotra about 3yrs ago in a temple as last-ditch effort to convince Girhotra to withdraw the case? 153. 154. CBI takes over probe of three new FIRs Police failed to produce Gajendra Singh in the court 155. 156. Court refused to grant stay on Rathore’s arrest After probe found her guilty, Sacred Heart School principal Sister Sebastina returned the state award 157. Rathore sent a representation to the then Haryana HM Sampat Singh alleging that 13 Jan 12 Jan 12 Jan 12 Jan 12 Jan 11 Jan 11 Jan 11 Jan 12 Jan

Ruchika was expelled “on moral grounds” 158. Co-accused in the cases in which Ashu is alleged to have been falsely implicated, 13 Jan

Gajendra Singh said that he knew Ashu “very well, Ashu denies co-accused’s claims questions ‘selective leaks’ 159. Punjab & Haryana HC rejected Rathore’s bail plea 160. Panchkula district & sessions court remanded to 14day judicial custody Gajender Singh 161. The smile, rather the smirk, that Rathore wore as he came out of court after being convicted of molesting Ruchika was inspired by Jawaharlal 14 Jan 13 Jan 13 Jan

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Nehru, says the disgusted cop 162. Ex-students of Sacred Heart school are 14 Jan

reaching out to each other via mails to meet the principal & ask her to apologise to Ruchika’s parents 163. 164. Rathore got bail Rathore is one of the three DGPs in the state police hall of shame. Top officers have been jailed for involvement in murder, smuggling, fake encounters 165. Rathore’s bail extended till Feb 8, CBI fears SIT hurting case 166. Wipe off his smirk, & that of others, don’t let Ruchika’s death be in vain 167. 168. Rathore to face CBI questioning Challenging his 2 anticipatory bail applications, CBI submitted in the Punjab & Haryana HC that “Rathore has filed the petitions with the sole objective of frustating the investigations” 169. 170. Crimes against children Ruchika’s father didn’t marry Veena, two 21 Jan 22 Jan 17 Jan 21 Jan 19 Jan 19 Jan 14 Jan 14 Jan 14 Jan

priests of Surajpur temple told CBI

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For nearly two decades the Ruchika Girhotra molestation case was out of public memory. On December 21, 2009 the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Court sentenced the former Director General of Police, Haryana, Shambu Pratap Singh Rathore to six month’s rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 1000 for molesting a 14 year old girl in 1990. The charge under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (assault on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty) was established. “The guilt of the convict has already been proved up to hilt,” noted Chief Judicial Magistrate Jasbir Singh Sidhu in his 97-page order, adding that the allegations were of moral turpitude and were of a serious nature, particularly in the circumstances when the victim was a minor. Dismissing the arguments of the defence counsel highlighting Rathore’s meritorious record, the judge noted that a meritorious service record and high moral character were two different things and that it could not be presumed merely on the grounds of meritorious service that a person would not commit an act of molestation. The victim was not yet 15 and was a student of class X in a public school when her life fell apart on August 12, 1990. Rathore, then a Deputy Inspector General of Police serving with the Bhakra Beas Management Board, was also the president of the Haryana Lawn Tennis Association (HALTA) at Panchkula, where the teenager and her friends had just started playing tennis. The victim’s father had plans of sending his daughter, who had lost her mother several years earlier, to Canada for a bright future. Rathore convinced him that his daughter was a promising tennis player and that he would give her extra coaching. Rathore molested her in the office of the HALTA. This was accidentally witnessed by her friend Aradhana, and the very first inquiry report submitted by the then Director General of Police, R.
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R. Singh, confirmed it. Instead of taking action, the State government led by Hukum Singh ordered departmental proceedings against Rathore. No first information report (FIR) was registered. Three years after the incident, the girl committed suicide by consuming poison. The victim’s family was aided in their fight by Aradhana, her father, Anand Prakash, a government employee, and mother, Madhu Prakash. In 1997, Madhu Prakash filed a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the court on August 21, 1998 ordered the registration of an FIR and handed over the investigation to the CBI. Rathore appealed against it in the Supreme Court, which upheld the lower court’s order. Finally, an FIR was registered on December 29, 1999, six years after the teenager committed suicide. Reports also concentrated on Ruchika’s father Subhash Chander Girhotra, how they were harassed at the hands of Rathore and how their family tried to avoid public gaze after the molestation. And even after the judgment, the family tried to avoid media gaze. The Girhotra family being continuously harassed sold their home in Haryana and moved to Shimla. According to Madhu Prakash, her family too was harassed. Many cases were slapped on Anand Prakash and he faced threats. He was forced to seek retirement. The case highlighted the need for fast-track courts to deal with crimes against women and children. Prompt registering of an FIR, a speedy trial and swift conviction might have prevented the many horrors that the family had to face. The newspaper reports and articles pointed out that there are no laws which protect minors against many forms of sexual violence. There is utter apathy when it comes to norms of how child witnesses in sexual harassment and rape cases should be examined. The child witness is always a suspected of being tutored by a parent. She is subjected to the same kind of questions
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you would ask an adult woman in court. Lengthy cross-examinations of children are routine with no provisions for even providing water to the witness or a chair to sit on. Although we have a debate on sexual harassment at the workplace it is eerie that we do not recognise the fact that we do not have any laws which meaningfully redress sexual harassment of women and children in public or private spaces. The Law Commission had spotted this and recommended in 2000 a provision recognising and punishing child abuse with imprisonment upto seven years. But nearly a decade has passed and nothing has been done. The law itself remains rooted in colonial formulations about women’s “modesty” which is seen as an attribute of the female sex. Many judgements have also held that all women do not possess modesty and therefore do not deserve the protection of law. Women’s organisations and groups have pointed out how the definitions relating to rape, molestation and ‘eve-teasing’ are flawed and do not reflect women’s experience of these crimes. They have also emphasised the urgent need to differentiate between sexual crimes committed against adult women and those committed against minors. The AIDWA and other women’s organisations and groups have, time and again, complained about the difficulty in registering a first information report (FIR) owing to gender bias and corruption among large sections of the police force. They have demanded that non-registering of an FIR be made an offence. The Law Commission, in its 83rd report on “Rape and Allied Offences”, suggested that a new section, 166 A, should be added to the IPC to make the police accountable for deliberate inaction and disobedience of law.

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The case against Rathore was filed under Sections 354 (molestation) and 509 (harassment) of the IPC. No case against him and the other police personnel was filed for threatening the victim and her friend and their families. No action was taken against those who filed false cases against the victim’s brother at Rathore’s instance. These illegal acts were completely disregarded by the police machinery and the Haryana government, and no cases were filed against Rathore and those who acted on his behalf for criminal intimidation, conspiracy and filing of false charges under Section 211. Under Section 354 of the IPC, molestation is defined as “assault or criminal force” by a man with an intention to “outrage the modesty of a woman” or “knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty”. The crime is cognisable and bailable. The section is problematic not only because it is couched in archaic and meaningless language, but also because all forms of sexual assaults other than rape have been included in it. To ensure that the law relating to child sexual abuse is reflective of the exact nature and seriousness of the abuse, AIDWA and others have suggested a number of changes to it. They have suggested that the provision relating to molestation in Section 354 should be amended to redefine molestation as unlawful sexual contact and any man who touches/assaults a woman with a sexual purpose should be liable for imprisonment up to three years and with fine. They have also suggested that if a child is molested or forced or incited to touch the body of any other person, the imprisonment should extend up to five years along with fine. If the molester is a person who is in a position of trust or authority towards the minor or is a person on whom the minor is dependent, the imprisonment should extend up to seven years. This suggestion should also apply to custodial molestation.
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It has further been recommended that the definition of rape should be enlarged to ensure that some of the forms of child sexual abuse are also considered rape. Such a definition would be in accordance with international legal standards, including the definition of rape by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has defined rape in even broader terms, as being “a physical invasion of a sexual nature, committed on a person under circumstances which are coercive”. The report in The Times of India also pointed out to the need of counselling facility in the schools. The counselling facility is CBSE’s main requirement in all schools, especially for adolescents. The Sacred Heart Senior Secondary School, which had expelled Ruchika a month after the molestation case on the grounds of indiscipline, still doesn’t have a dedicated counsellor or a psychologist to tackle cases of harassment. Another report of The Times of India compared the cases of K. P. S. Gill and S. P. S. Rathore. Both were accused of molesting women, their trial took an inordinately long time and both were let off with light punishments. The report says if a trial court awarded six months prison for Rathore after 19 years of the incident or 15 years after Ruchika committed suicide, then Gill got away with a prison term of three months for molesting IAS officer Rupan Deol Bajaj in 1988. According to Ram Rakshpal Singh, the state’s former police chief, Rathore had stage-managed protests to influence an initial inquiry against him. Singh said his report about the molestation, submitted to the state, was never accepted, for unspecified reasons. He alleged that Rathore had roped in a group form Rajiv Colony, near Panchkula, and leaders from Rajput community to hold demonstrations in front of Singh’s house.
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A report in Hindustan Times said that pressure mounted on the Centre and Haryana governments to ask the CBI to file an appeal seeking a longer jail term against Rathore. The demand grew louder as details of the Chandigarh court judgment, which found Rathore guilty, showed the court agreed that his crime was fully proved, but failed to give reasons for a mere six month imprisonment. The Times of India reported that Ruchika Girhotra’s alma mater – Sacred Heart – appears to have plotted her expulsion from the school. It now transpires that the school didn’t accept Ruchika’s fee and later expelled her on the flimsy grounds that she didn’t pay it. A senior Sacred Heart teacher said it was rare for the school to expel on the grounds cited in Ruchika’s case. According to this teacher, either a month’s notice is given or fine is imposed. In extreme situations, the students aren’t allowed to take the exams. An article in The Hindu asked to abolish the need for official, i.e. political sanction to prosecute bureaucrats, policemen and security forces personnel when they are accused of committing crimes. The original intent behind this built-in stay-out-of-jail card was to protect state functionaries from acts done in the course of discharging their duties in good faith. Somewhere along the line, this has come to mean protecting our custodians of law and order when they murder innocent civilians (eg. the infamous Panchalthan case in Kashmir where the trial of army men indicated by the CBI for murdering five villagers in 2000 still cannot take place because the Central government will not grant permission), or assault or molest women and children. The article also suggests to bring an end to the cosy relationship between the police and politicians. Rathore was protected by four chief ministers of
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Haryana. He served them and they served him by ensuring his unfettered rise. Indian Police is still governed by a colonial-era Act dating back to 1861. A number of commissions have made recommendations for reforming the police over the years; but no government or political party wants to give up its ability to use and misuse the police for their own benefit. An article in The Indian Express points out the role of 24 hour news channels in such cases. It says Ruchika lived and died in those dark, socialist days when our only TV channel was Doordarshan. Had Ruchika lived today when 24-hour news channels make the crimes of men like Rathore public before they can be protected by the state, it is possible she would still be alive. Rathore would have been disgraced in the merciless glare of the media before he had time to use the machinery of the state to hide this crime under a tissue of lies. But, the Manu Sharma parole story reminds us that the Indian state remains fundamentally corrupt and amoral and the only thing that has changed since socialist times is the vigilance of private TV channels. The politicians who protected Rathore have been scrutinised by the media and shamed publicly for what they did. But, we must remember that even small-time politicians in India continue to have more power than they should under the norms of democracy. The richest, most powerful Indians hesitate to take them on because displeasing an important minister or chief minister usually results in income tax raids and harassment of the kind that is not very different to what Ruchika’s young brother went through. Asu, Ruchika’s brother, was hardly a teenager but Rathore succeeded in putting so many criminal cases against him that Ruchika was driven to suicide.

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As for media, the mighty Fourth Estate, is equally vulnerable. In the dark days of socialism there were black lists in Delhi’s Press Information Bureau of journalists who made too much noise about government failures. These lists no longer exist but journalists out of favour with the Government of India find themselves shunned and denied access. In our state capitals the problem is more serious. Journalists who spend too much time pursuing corrupt politicians can end up dead. If influential Indian citizens can be treated this way it does not take much to imagine what happens to the voiceless and the poor. In rural India women usually do not dare go into police stations to register a complaint for fear of catching the eye of some local officer. Dalit and Adivasi girls are routinely raped and if the rapist happens to be of upper caste, even if not a police officer, they know there is no point in trying to get justice because their families will be hounded out of the village. A report in Hindustan Times pointed out that women are defending their husbands charged with sex offence. The report said that this is one of the four recent cases where wives have stood by their high profile husbands booked for sex crimes. Abha Rathore, wife of Rathore, fought the case for him. If actor Shiney Ahuja’s wife cried hoarse over her husband’s

implication in a rape case, former Punjab legislator Gaganjit Singh Barnala’s wife Harpreet didn’t leave his side when he was accused of raping his domestic help. Former Haryana Inspector General of Police Ravi Kant Sharma’s wife, Madhu, too braved the public ire when her husband was booked and later convicted for the murder of Indian Express journalist Shivani Bhatnagar. But she vouched for his innocence. In an interview Madhu said, it’s about having faith in the spouse and the institution of marriage.

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According to the report the trend isn’t limited to India alone. In the United States, when US President Bill Clinton was embroiled in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Hillary Clinton put up a spirited defence for her husband. As the Ruchika’s case created public uproar the government has decided to make molestation a non-bailable offence, increasing the maximum

imprisonment for the crime from 2 to 5 years. An article in The Times of India said fresh investigations into an incident that happened so many years ago are unusual. But public and media pressure have forced a relook at cases where the accused were powerful enough to subvert justice. These include the Jessica Lal, Nitish Katara and Priyadarshini Mattoo cases. The way these and Ruchika’s case were handled is a blot on our investigating and judicial agencies. But the heartening thing is that public pressure has succeeded in preventing the accused from getting away. This is of course not an answer to the ills plaguing the judicial delivery system in India, but only a short-term remedy to make government agencies more responsive. Another article in The Times of India said that many of the charges against Rathore, such as abetment to suicide and obstructing justice, are yet to be proved. It is incumbent on the media to exercise some restraint in its coverage. If it does not, there is real danger of a trial by media. The legal principle of sub judice exists precisely to prevent any public action or comment from interfering with the due process of law. Can the crusade for getting justice for Jessica and now Ruchika influence the legal process? There are no easy answers. But what can be said with some certainty is that the intense media campaign has laid bare the ineptitude of investigating agencies and the use of influence. But once a case is before the court, it is up to the judiciary to evaluate available evidence to the best of its ability.
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To sum up it can be said that media has given considerable attention to the Ruchika Girhotra molestation case. Media not only pointed out the legal loopholes in the case but also the misuse of power by the people sitting on the key positions in our bureaucratic system. The attention has been drawn towards those who are sitting on the other side of the fence. Media coverage of the case also stressed the need to amend the age old laws and sections of the IPC. There is need to sensitise the legal system towards the plea of the victim. The issue has also highlighted the need to bring in police reforms. The case has drawn attention of public and the government equally. The government plans to tighten the noose on sexual offenders by widening the definition of sexual assault to include "perverse sexual acts" that currently do not attract the same punishment as rape. Sexual assault in any form penetration by any part of a man's body or any object into any part of the woman's body - will now attract the same punishment as rape, which can extend to life imprisonment but will not be less than seven years. Many of the offences that are not defined as rape currently pass off as minor crimes such as molestation, hurt or grievous hurt attracting relatively mild punishment. If the accused is a relative or a person in position of trust or authority or one who commits the sexual assault persistently - an apparent reference to child abuse - the punishment will now be not less than 10 years in jail. Also, the age at which a girl can have consensual sex will be increased to 18 years from the existing age of 16. This means any sexual activity with a girl below the age of 18, even with her consent, will be a crime.
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Media Activism: Case Study
Earlier, an exception to the law was that a man could have sex with his wife if she was at least 15 years of age. But now, the age of consent has been fixed at 18 years without exception. The ministry of home affairs sent the draft of the 'Criminal Law

(Amendment) Bill, 2010' to all states and Union Territories and invited opinion from the public on the proposed changes. May 15 has been set as the deadline for suggestions and comments before the government takes the bill to the Union Cabinet for clearance. Though Section 377 continues to remain in the Indian Penal Code, a new Section 376 C(1) has been inserted to protect minors from sexual abuse. For the first time, the police will be liable to properly investigate such cases failing which they could be put behind bars for up to one year or fined. Changes have also been proposed in the Indian Evidence Act to shift the onus of proving innocence in a sexual assault case on the accused and the word of the victim that she did not consent to the act would be presumed to be correct. "Where the question of consent is an issue, evidence of the character of the victim or previous sexual experience with any person shall not be relevant on the issue of such consent or the quality of the consent. Where the question of consent is an issue, it shall not be permissible to adduce evidence or to put questions in the cross- examination of the victim as to general immoral character or previous sexual experience," the draft bill says. As a fallout of this case Rathore has been stripped off his Police medal and the court has ordered day to day hearing in the case.

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Media Activism: Case Study
After so much attention by media, the government decided to notify a landmark amendment in some sections of the Criminal Procedure Code. The definition of rape has also been expanded. When Ruchika’s brother Ashu has been arrested in the false cases and the family was being harassed, the local court took suo moto cognizance of the reports published in The Indian Express and ordered a probe. After the local court gave verdict in the case media took up the issue and pointed towards the inadequacy of the punishment in the wake of harassment faced by the victim and the family.

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Media Activism: Case Study

Newspapers • • • • The Times of India The Indian Express The Hindu Hindustan Times

Magazines • • • Frontline, Vol. 27-Issue 02: Jan 16-29, 2010 Outlook India Today

Websites • • •

Books • Women & media: a critical introduction By Carolyn M. Byerly, Karen Ross • Rhyming hope and history: activists, academics, and social movement scholarship By David Croteau • Future active: media activism and the internet By Graham Meikle
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Media Activism: Case Study
• • Media and mediation By Bernard Bel The anthropology of globalization: a reader By Jonathan Xavier Inda, Renato Rosaldo • • • Understanding Community Media By Kevin Howley Asian Americans and the Media By Kent A. Ono, Vincent Pham Women journalists in Namibia's liberation struggle, 1985-1990 By Maria Mboono Nghidinwa, Henning

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