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Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Centre moves to strip Rathore & KPS Gill of police medal for 'Moral turpitude'

Centre moves to strip Rathore & KPS Gill of police medal for 'Moral turpitude'
5 January 2010
NEW DELHI: As the Centre moved to strip former Haryana DGP S P S Rathore of his police medal, there was a strong risk of much decorated supercop K P S Gill, credited with retreiving Punjab from a Pakistan-backed insurgency, becoming a collateral victim of the larger policy to withdraw awards of convicted cops.

While recommending to President Pratibha Patil the withdrawal of police medal given to the disgraced Rathore -- convicted for molesting teenager Ruchika Girhotra -- the home ministry announced that police officers convicted for "moral turpitude" or bringing "disrepute or disrespect" to the service would be stripped of their police awards.

The moral turpitude grounds would bring Gill in the ambit. Gill was convicted for pinching the bottom of senior IAS officer Rupan Deol Bajaj in 1998 but got away by paying a fine. The former Punjab DGP, who was also admired for his fight against Assam militants, has a Padma Shri too. It is not clear whether the application would cover this civilian award also. Another IPS officer R K Sharma -- convicted in the Shivani Bhatnagar murder case -- could now lose his medal as well.

Absconding IPS officer of Rajasthan cadre Madhukar Tandon, allegedly involved in a rape case, may also eventually come up for review.

"The Central Police Awards Committee (CPAC) has taken two primary decisions. The committee recommended to the President for the withdrawal of police medal given to Rathore," said Union home secretary G K Pillai.

Referring to other cases without identifying officers, home secretary G K Pillai said, "The CPAC has also taken a generic decision to authorise the ministry of home affairs to recommend the withdrawal of police medal to all persons who are convicted for moral turpitude and any act that brings disrespect to police forces. Any officer dismissed from service for an act that brought disrepute to the police will also lose honours."

Though the home secretary did not dwell on specific cases, an official said, "List of other two category of officers -- those who brought "disrepute" to their services by any means and those like Tandon who have been on the run avoiding the due process of law -- will also be sent to the President in due course."
He said, "While the home secretary will be empowered to make a recommendation to the President in the case of convicted police officers, other cases (like that of Tandon) will first be brought before the CPAC."

Gill was first convicted by the Chandigarh chief judicial magistrate in August 1996. He was sentenced to three months imprisonment. The district and sessions court in January 1998 upheld the conviction but changed the sentence to three years of probation. The Punjab and Haryana High Court too upheld the sentence but reduced the probation to one year. Supreme Court too later upheld his conviction.

The then Rajasthan DIG Tandon had allegedly raped a tribal woman at his Noida residence in January, 1997. He has, however, been absconding since then. He was suspended in 2002.

The CPAC, which met on Monday to take decisions over the issue of Rathore's medal, also gave final touches to the list of police medal awardees -- from state police and central paramilitary forces -- who will be honoured on the occasion of Republic Day.

Hours before the meeting of the award committee, Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda recommended withdrawal of the police medal of Rathore. In a letter to Union home minister P Chidambaram, Hooda said Rathore has brought "disrepute and bad name" to the state and the police force.
The letter also mentioned "moral turpitude" on the part of Rathore in the case.

Reacting over the decision, Ruchika's friend Aradhana Prakash Gupta, who along with her parents had fought to get her justice, said: "It is an appreciable step taken by the central government and it will mark the beginning of reform mechanism in the country".

Aradhana's father Anand Prakash and her mother Madhu Prakash said that the decision would send a message loud and clear that guilty would not go scot free.

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