Kerala HC delivers justice to 8-year-old girl, orders action against woman cop
Kochi, December 23, 2021
After half a dozen hearings, the Kerala High Court, seeing that there was no action coming on the part of the state government in the issue of denial of justice to an eight-year-old girl and her father who were publicly humiliated by a women police officer, on Wednesday directed compensation be paid to the child and action taken against the erring police official who caused them mental agony.
Justice Devan Ramachandran, taking a humane position all through the hearings in the case, gave a lot of time to the state to act but after finding nothing was happening, ruled: "We cannot let our daughters grow up in anger; immediate remedial steps should be taken. No one can dispute that her fundamental right under Article 21 to lead a dignified and full life was violated."
The court granted a compensation of Rs 1,50,000 to the petitioner and imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 towards legal expenses in the matter.
The court, pointing out that it expected the state to rise in defence for the petitioner since she was "its daughter", expressed its disappointment at the "stern refusal" of the state government to acknowledge the trauma that she went through and opined that this certainly required the court to sit up and take notice.
The court also directed that disciplinary action should be initiated against the police officer concerned while clarifying that this does not mean she should be removed from her employment.
The girl had approached the High Court seeking compensation for the trauma she faced due to Rejitha, the official of "Pink Police", an all-women team that aims at protecting women in public, private, and digital spaces.
During the previous hearing, Justice Ramachandran had said it was justified to grant compensation as sought by the petitioner and asked the government as to how much it was willing to pay her.
To this, the state government said they do not intend to pay any compensation as there was no wrong done at all.
The court then asked a top police official to see the video of the entire sequence of events and posted the case for Wednesday.
This was the sixth time in the past six weeks that the court spoke tough against the acts of both the woman police official and the top brass of the police for not taking any action.
In her petition, the girl stated that despite several pleas, no action was taken against the woman police officer, hence they moved the court for justice and after the trial began, they said, that since they failed to get justice from any quarters, they have rejected the unconditional apology that the erring police official had tendered.
The incident occurred on August 27, when 38-year-old Jayachandran and his daughter were out on the main road in the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram near Attingal in to watch the movement of a huge trailer carrying equipment to the ISRO unit.
Suddenly Rejitha, the woman officer finding her mobile missing, accused Jayachandran who was standing near the police patrol vehicle, of stealing it. She even said that he must have passed the mobile to his eight-year-old daughter, his accomplice.
She publicly humiliated the father and the daughter and threatened to take both of them to the nearby police station. This was witnessed by a large crowd.
Later, Rejitha found the mobile phone in the vehicle. The entire episode was filmed by an onlooker, who shared it on social media and it went viral.
On August 31, Jayachandran approached the state police chief Anil Kant seeking action against Rejitha, as his daughter was in a state of shock for being publicly admonished.
Promising action, Kant, asked South Zone IG Harshita Attaluri to conduct a probe and Rejitha was transferred.
However, it was found out that Rejitha was transferred to a more convenient location and there was actually no action taken against her.
Finding no further action in September, the family observed a day-long sit-in in front of the Kerala Secretariat protesting inaction against the woman police officer. When this also went unnoticed, the family approached the High Court.
Hearing the verdict, Jayachandran said it is not for the money that they went to court, but because they were humiliated despite doing no wrong at all and even after they brought it to the notice of all concerned, they had failed to get justice.
"We are really thankful to the court which has understood us," he said.