Internal probe initiated against Khadki police officials for refusing to lodge NGO’s complaint against man who sexually abused his own child. After senior officers intervened, cops violated several laws before they arrested the accused
The police’s insensitive approach in cases of sexual abuse of children came to the fore after an NGO registered a complaint against Khadki cops, who refused to believe that a father had molested his five-year-old daughter in their jurisdiction, and delayed the filing of an FIR.
Other than this, they violated several other norms of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, attracting a rap from senior police officers.
Manoj Patil, deputy commissioner of police (Zone IV), has initiated a departmental enquiry into the matter and said that action would be taken against erring officers if they were found guilty.
Besides disregarding the law, Khadki police unnecessarily delayed the arrest of the accused father. Only after DCP Patil intervened and instructed the Khadki police station in-charge to take necessary action did the cops register a case on March 17, and the accused father was arrested on March 24.
Anuradha Sahasrabuddhe, director of Childline NGO, which took up the abused child’s cause, said, “The Khadki case is just an example of the general insensitiveness of police officers and staff at police station and chowkies. The Khadki police inspector was just not accepting the fact that a father could sexually abuse his daughter, even after we cited many such cases reported earlier in the city and elsewhere.”
The incident occurred on March 14, after which the girl told her grandmother, who then sought the NGO’s help. The NGO approached the police on March 16, but the cops were reluctant to lodge a complaint until the DCP stepped up and issued an order the next day.
Section 19(6) in Chapter 5 of POCSO Act clearly states that the local police should report such grave offences to the Child Welfare Committee and the special or sessions court within a period of 24 hours, Sahasrabuddhe said.
In their defence, Khadki police station officials said, “The girl’s mother works in a call centre. When the girl’s mother was not at home, her father used to bathe her. On what basis should we make arrests in this case?”
Highlighting the breaches of the law committed by the police, Sahasrabuddhe said, “The victim, a 5-year-old, was called upon at the Bopodi police chowki during the night hours by police officers for recording her statement. The officers and staff were in their uniforms while recording the statement. The accused, that is the father of the girl was also present at the place when the statement was being recorded. All these are gross violations.
“Under section 24 of Chapter VI of the POCSO Act, subsections 1 to 4 clearly say that the statement of the child shall be recorded at their residence (or their choice of place). The police officers should not be in their uniform, cops should ensure that at no point of time the child comes in contact in any way with the accused, and the child should not be detained in the police station at night for any reason,” she said.
‘Cops should’ve taken action’
DCP Manoj Patil said, “An officer of the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police is conducting an enquiry into the alleged lapses on the part of Khadki police staff while registering a case of molestation of the minor girl. Prima facie the police staff was ignorant about the strict conditions of the POCSO Act but ignorance of law is also wrong.”
“The police officers should have communicated the matter to the Child Welfare Committee within 24 hours of the incident being reported. We are enquiring why and for what reasons the report was delayed by Khadki police,” Patil said.
Asked about sensitisation programmes for police staff, DCP Patil said that they conducted a camp for making police officers aware of their legal duties as prescribed by the POCSO Act. “In the meantime, due to general transfers or so, new police officers from a side branch take charge of police stations and are unaware of the changed laws. Sensitisation and creating awareness among police officers and staff should be a continuous process.”