Wednesday, May 22, 2024
HomeNews ReportsRahul Gandhi questioned over ‘rape’ remark is not politics, but that’s how police is...

Rahul Gandhi questioned over ‘rape’ remark is not politics, but that’s how police is supposed to work, here is why

According to the Code of Criminal Procedure, police can launch an investigation into a cognizable offence even if there is no formal complaint filed, and a magistrate’s order is not required

After Delhi Police sent a notice to Congress MP Rahul Gandhi seeking details of women who complained to him that they were raped, the Congress party has launched an attack on the Narendra Modi government. The Congress has alleged that the govt is rattled by Rahul Gandhi’s questions on the relationship between PM Modi and Gautam Adani.

Calling it “another proof of a government in panic,” the party said on 16 March that the notice was an effort by the govt to “weaken democracy, women empowerment, freedom of expression and role of the opposition.” The party repeated the allegations after a team of Delhi Police went to Rahul Gandhi’s house to talk to him over the matter.

The party alleged that the Delhi police is doing this on the orders of the central government. “Without Amit Shah’s order, it is not possible that police could show such audacity to enter the house of a national leader without any reason. Rahul Gandhi said that he has received the notice and he will reply to it but still, the police went to his house,” said Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot.

While the Congress party is crying political vendetta, the fact remains that Rahul Gandhi alleged serious crimes against women, and the police have to take action for such crimes. It is notable that on 30 January in Srinagar during his Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul Gandhi said that several women had met him during the yatra and narrated the sexual harassment they had faced.

Rahul Gandhi also mentioned it in his already controversial speech at Cambridge university in the UK, where he said that when he was walking in his Bharat Jodo Yatra, two women who are sisters had approached him and told him that they were gang-raped by 5 men. He also said that when he offered to inform the police about it, they declined, saying that they will be shamed and they will never get married if he calls the cops.

Following this, taking cognizance of social media posts on Rahul Gandhi’s comments, the Delhi Police sent a questionary to him and asked him to give details about women who approached him during the Bharat Jodo Yatra and alleged that they faced sexual harassment. The police asked him to give the details of those women so that action can be taken in those cases, and the victims can be provided security.

Delhi Police has also said that they already started an investigation after Rahul Gandhi made the comments, but couldn’t make any progress as they didn’t find any unreported rape cases. That is why they sent the questionnaire to Rahul Gandhi to give the detail of the women who talked to him saying that they were raped.

Talking about the investigation, Special CP (L&O) of Delhi Police Dr Sagar Preet Hooda said that as the Bharat Jodo Yara went through Delhi, the police had tried to find any information about any cases of sexual assault after Rahul Gandhi’s comments. But after they couldn’t find any information, they decided to ask the Congress leader about it.

He said that they are trying to gather information about the crimes from Rahul Gandhi, but he has not provided it yet. He added that police have requested Gandhi to provide to give the information at the earliest so that the probe can start immediately, and there is no loss of evidence and further abuse of the victims.

Right of police to launch a probe

What the Delhi Police is doing is part of the job of the police, to take action whenever there are reports of a crime. Moreover, it is not required for someone to lodge a complaint before the police can initiate action. The police have the right to start an investigation on their own after they learn about a criminal act in cases involving cognizable offences.

We have seen many times police taking action based on social media videos posted on social media platforms. Because the moment police learn about a crime, they have the duty and the authority to launch a probe, regardless of whether a formal complaint was filed or not.

Moreover, if the case is related to a cognizable crime, the police do not require a magistrate’s order to start an investigation, while a magistrate’s order is required for non-Cognizable offences. Rape is a Cognizable offence.

Section 156 of the Code of Criminal Procedure says that the officer in charge of the police may, without the prior permission of the Magistrate start the process of investigation in cases involving cognizable offences. If the police suspect that a cognizable offence has taken place, they can start an investigation even without any formal FIR. Moreover, the police officer of a particular police station can investigate the crime even if it was committed outside the jurisdiction of the police station.

The section further states that police have the statutory right to investigate and if a police officer is investigating a case, then the judiciary cannot give orders to stop the investigation. However, if police have not started a probe, the magistrate can issue orders to the police to start the investigation.

Section 156(2) further states that at any point during the investigation, the police can’t be questioned alleging that it is not empowered to investigate the case.

While the Delhi police have started action after the comments by Rahul Gandhi, they can’t proceed without his cooperation. This is because to launch any probe into the alleged rape crimes, the police must identify the victims, and Rahul Gandhi is the only person who knows the victims.

If the police can’t identify the victims, they can’t file formal FIRs, and can’t proceed further with the probes, or hand over the cases to the respective police stations of the places where the crimes took place.

It is notable that in general, a person is not legally bound to report a crime even if he has knowledge about it. Moreover, Rahul Gandhi didn’t witness the crimes, the victims told him about the alleged crimes, so he can’t be summoned as a witness. But as he has alleged that several women narrated their ordeals to him, as a responsible citizen he should help the police in ensuring justice for those women.

Legally bound to give information if rape victim is minor

It is also important to mention that if any of the victims that met Rahul Gandhi was a minor, then Rahul Gandhi has to give the details to the police. Not reporting a crime of sexual assault of a minor despite knowing about it is actually a punishable crime.

According to section 19(1) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), if any person has apprehension that an offence under the act is likely to be committed or has knowledge that such an offence has been committed, such a person has to provide such information to Special Juvenile Police Unit or the local police.

Section 21 of the act also states that non-reporting of a crime under POCSO can be punished with imprisonment for up to 6 months or a fine or both. According to a Supreme Court judgement last year, non-reporting of sexual assault against a minor child despite knowledge is a serious crime.

As at present, none of the victims that spoke Rahul Gandhi has been identified, it can’t be said at present whether this provision of POCSO will apply or not.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Raju Das
Raju Das
Corporate Dropout, Freelance Translator

Related Articles

Trending now

Recently Popular

- Advertisement -