The Kerala High Court today came down heavily on the police over "victimising" a Delhi-origin couple who had to bear travel and accommodation costs of a Kerala Police team which went to the national capital to search for their missing daughters, saying "don't they (officers) have any self respect".
Justice Devan Ramachandran asked how the police officers concerned could have made the parents, worried over their missing daughters, pay for the travel and stay at Delhi.
The court asked police how the controlling authority of the officers was not aware how they travelled to Delhi as any official going outside the state on duty has to inform the authority.
"If the controlling authority was not aware about it, then it indicates complete breakdown of the law. There appears to be no accountability. No wonder the police are like this," the court said.
"How are you victimising the victims (parents)? What kind of police officers are they? Don't they have any self respect," the court added.
It also questioned why the officers involved have not been suspended in connection with the allegations levelled against them by the parent.
"The allegations are very serious, They have destroyed a family," the court said.
According to a statement of the enquiry proceedings initiated against the officers by the police, one of them was suspended in connection with a cheating case while the others have only been transferred, the court noted.
It also noted that the statement "did not contain a whisper" of the allegation by the parents that one of the officers had also demanded Rs 5 lakh to release the daughters back to the family or what action was proposed against them.
The court was hearing a plea it initiated on its own based on a newspaper report which claimed that not only did the police demand Rs 5 lakh to release the daughters back to the parents, they also arrested the couple's two elder sons for allegedly sexually abusing their sisters.
While the police on Monday claimed before the court that action against the sons was taken based on the elder daughter's statements before the police and the magistrate that she was sexually abused by her brothers, according to a Kerala State Legal Services Authority report the statement was made under pressure and instigation by the officers in question.
The Kerala State Legal Services Authority, which was asked by the court to look into the matter, said in its report that the daughters -- one aged 19 years and other 14 years -- have claimed that their brothers are fond of them and have never abused them.
They also said that they made false allegations against their brothers under police pressure, the Kerala State Legal Services Authority told the court and added that the daughters -- currently housed in a care home -- wanted to return to their family.
The court was also informed by the police and Kerala State Legal Services Authority that the two brothers have been granted bail on the condition that they will not enter the district of Ernakulam.
In view of these facts, the court allowed the daughters to return home to their parents and directed that a protection officer as provided under the POCSO Act keep a vigil on the house and ensure their welfare continuously for 10 days initially and then on a random basis thereafter.
The court also ordered that the daughters be counselled so that the shock of their ordeal can be alleviated to the extent possible and they can be brought back to normal life as much as reasonably possible.
It also sought an action taken report from the Commissioner of Police, Kochi city, before the next date of hearing on November 16 with regard to the charge memo, if any, issued to the officers concerned by then and also further steps taken regarding the allegation of Rs 5 lakh demanded by them.
According to the news report, the two sisters had run away from home to Delhi with Rs 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 Rs 5 lakh from the parents to release their daughters, the news report had claimed.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)