Pink Police harassment: Kerala HC slams DGP's report, asks what will state do to protect the child

Woman cop apologizes to minor girl, father wrongly accused of theft
The Pink Police office who wrongly accused an 8-yar-old and her father of theft. Screengrab from a video of the incident that went viral.

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Monday slammed a report by the State Police Chief over the 'public trial' of a minor girl who along with her father were accused of theft by a woman pink police officer. The court asked the state what it proposes to do to assuage feelings of the minor girl and restore her faith in humanity and the police.

The query from the court came during the hearing of a plea filed by the girl, seeking a direction to the government to take stern action against the officer for infringing 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.

Meanwhile, the lawyer for the pink police officer in question, who has been transferred to Kollam from Attingal to serve in a non-uniformed post, submitted an affidavit at the High Court on Monday in which the woman has "wholeheartedly and deeply" apologised to the child and her family as well as the court for her actions of that day.

After perusing the affidavit by the officer, mother of three minor children and the sole earner of her family as her husband was unemployed, the court asked the lawyer for the girl and her family whether they were willing to forgive the woman.

"Bygones must be bygones," the court suggested, but left it to the child and her family to take a call.

However, the child's father refused to accept the apology and said he will go forward with legal proceedings. The police officer was protected by people high-up. We will go forward with the case seeking reparation, he told Manorama News.

Hearing the case, Justice Devan Ramachandran said the incident occurred as the officer in question was "drunk on power".

"If it was your daughter would you do this? That is what I am asking the government. The government has to treat the child as its daughter and take care of her.

"No doubt the officer acted in a manner wholly unbecoming of an officer and a human being. However, the state has to answer what it proposes to do to protect the child," the judge said.

"What does the state propose to do to assuage her feelings and restore her faith and confidence in humanity and the police," the court asked the state.

The court also said that the report filed by the State Police Chief (SPC) in relation to the incident was "trying to create an obfuscatory curtain" and that it was "really unfortunate".

It was also shocked that the SPC said in his report that no case under the Juvenile Justice Act or any other criminal provision was made out against the officer in question regarding her actions on that day.

"I am shocked. How can the DGP say that? Your (police) report is not right. You should have been more empathetic," the judge said.

To the SPC, the court said, "It is not when an incident is brought to light that action is taken, but every officer needs to be sensitised on how to deal with women and children.

"You have to ensure that every officer acts with empathy towards the citizens."

The court also said that it wants to speak to the doctor who had carried out the psychiatric evaluation of the child and asked the state to make arrangements for the online presence of the medical professional on the next date of hearing – December 15.

Both the lady officer and the State Police Chief came up with arguments with the clear intention of playing down the gravity of her actions, which the Court had earlier said was born out of "khakhi ego and arrogance".

The lady officer told the Court that it was the father's manner that gave her the false impression. She said that the man quickly moved something behind his back when she looked at him. She said it was only later she realised it was a cigarette.

The State Police Chief's report sought to shift the blame for the fear the child felt to the crowd that gathered around her. It said that the child started crying only when a crowd gathered around her and not when the woman officer questioned her. The court, which had seen the video of the harassment, rejected the argument outright.

"Absolutely wrong. I saw when the girl started crying. She was crying from the very beginning of the video; she was evidently terrified. This is where the cover-up starts. Khaki will always go in favour of the khaki. The officer was just drunk on power at the moment," Justice Devan Ramachandran said.

The video, which was taken by a witness, shows the girl crying the moment the woman officer threatens to search her for the phone. When the girl and her father deny they have taken the mobile, the woman officer is heard telling them that she knew by their very looks that they were the thieves.

The girl and her father would have even been taken to the police station had another police officer not thought of calling the 'missing' mobile. The 'missing' mobile was found intact inside the police vehicle. Even then, instead of apologising, the woman officer was heard defending her actions. “How could an officer even think of searching a child,” the Court asked on Monday.

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 which 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 a disciplinary action, the woman officer was transferred and the State police chief directed her to undergo behavioural training.  

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