HC for registering criminal case against police officers

Taking money from a family to trace their missing girls

Observing orally that taking money from the victims or their parents amounted to extortion, the Kerala High Court on Thursday appointed two High Court lawyers as amici curiae to assist the court in ascertaining whether prosecution proceedings could be launched against the police officers who had collected money from a family in Kochi for travelling to Delhi to trace their two missing daughters.

Justice Devan Ramachandran passed the order in a suo motu case initiated on the basis of a newspaper report that a North Indian family living in Kochi had to give money to the police officers for their travel to Delhi to trace out their two missing daughters.

The family had also alleged that an assistant sub-inspector of police had demanded ₹5 lakh for releasing the girls who were brought to the city and lodged in a care home. The newspaper reported that the two sisters had run away from home to meet an online boyfriend of the elder one. The court had, later, allowed the girls to go with their parents.

The court observed that all were expected to act as per the law. How could one condone such actions of police officers? the court asked. They should have never taken the money from the parents or the victims, not even as an advance, for travel and lodging expenses.

In a report, the Kochi City Commissioner said the officers did not avail of the railway travel warrants or advance travelling allowance they were entitled to. They had travelled at the expense of the parents and that the assistant sub-inspector in the team had obtained ₹17,000 from the elder girl for their boarding and lodging expenses. The Commissioner said the amount taken from the family would be returned or reimbursed.

The court observed that the question which arose now was whether the action of the officers required lodging of an FIR. The court has appointed advocates S. Rajeev and A.V. Jojo as amici curiae to explore the ambit of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC).

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