In a development that has evoked shock and anger, the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has restored the pension of former Director General of Police (DGP) of Haryana, SPS Rathore, who was convicted last year for molesting teenager Ruchika Girhotra in 1990.
The Centre had stopped Mr Rathore's pension in June last year after a CBI court in Chandigarh had, in December 2009, found him guilty and sentenced him to six years of rigorous imprisonment for molesting the 14-year-old tennis player on August 12, 1990. The girl had committed suicide three years later. The 69-year-old former top cop subsequently moved a plea against the Union Government's decision, pleading that his pension had been stopped on a permanent basis without assigning any cogent reasons by the Centre.
A division bench of the CAT headed by Justice S D Anand, on Thursday, ordered the revocation of the Centre's order. It observed that it was of the considered view that the competent authority could not have validly directed the withholding of pension on permanent basis.
But the CAT's order has been met with outrage and disbelief by Ruchika's family and friends. Anand Prakash, the man behind the "Justice for Ruchika" campaign and a close friend of the Chandigarh-based Girhotras, said, "It is not only shocking, it is something beyond our apprehension. We never thought that just to fade the memory and also that the government at that time withdrew his medals, his promotion. Now, since the case is going away from the memory of the public, all his benefits are being restored." He added that Ruchika's father was "totally disgusted" and felt "cheated by the process of law".
Even as the CAT's order has come as a major relief to Mr Rathore, the victim's family is determined to fight to ensure denial all benefits post-1990 to the former police officer.