The Kerala High Court on Thursday said it will examine whether an FIR can be lodged and investigation initiated against the police officers who travelled to Delhi at the expense of the parents of two girls for tracing their daughters.
Justice Devan Ramachandran appointed two lawyers as amici curiae to assist the court in ascertaining whether prosecution can be initiated against the officers on of whom had allegedly also demanded ₹ 5 lakh from the parents to hand over custody of their daughters who were rescued from the national capital.
“Taking money from the victims or their parents amounts to extortion,” the court observed.
“We are all expected to act as per the law. How can we condone such actions of police officers? They should have never taken the money from the parents or the victims, not even as an advance, for travel and lodging expenses,” the court added.
The court also said there are instances where due to emergent conditions, officers may have to travel by air or pay out of their pockets for travel and therefore, these aspects need to be looked into by the government.
The observations from the court came after it perused a report filed by the Commissioner of Police, Kochi, who had stated that the officers did not avail of the Railway travel warrants or advance travelling allowance that they were entitled to.
Instead they travelled by air at the expense of the parents, the report said and added that the Assistant Sub Inspector in the team also took ₹ 17,000 from the elder girl towards the boarding and lodging expenses of himself and others.
The report said that the amounts taken from the family would be returned or reimbursed.
After perusing the report, Justice Ramachandran said, “The question which arises now is whether the action of the officers requires lodging of an FIR.”
The court said it would require the assistance of amicus curiae to understand the ambit of the Criminal Procedure Code in this issue.
The lawyer for the state and the police told the court that based on the findings in the report an FIR cannot be registered and a complaint would be required.
The court listed the matter for hearing on January 5, 2022 when it will hear the amici curiae on whether an FIR can be lodged against the officers involved.
The court was hearing a plea initiated by it on its own based on a newspaper report which claimed that not only did the police demand ₹ five lakh to release the daughters back to the parents, they also arrested the couple”s two elder sons for allegedly sexually abusing their sisters.
On the last date, the court had said that rotten apples in the system should be dealt with.
Earlier, the police had told the court that disciplinary proceedings have been initiated against the five officers and show cause notices have been issued to them seeking their response as to why action be not taken against them.
According to the news report, the two sisters had run away from home to Delhi with ₹ 35,000 to meet the online boyfriend of the elder one.
Subsequently, the parents had to pay for the travel and accommodation of the police team which went to Delhi from Kerala to look for the girls, the news report said.
The team found the girls from Delhi and initial probe revealed that the elder was raped by her online boyfriend and another man.
The team arrested the boyfriend and brought him and the two girls back to Kerala and on arriving here, demanded ₹ five lakh from the parents to release their daughters, the news report had claimed.