Delhi: Court slams police move to arrest hotel owner for rape inside premises

A Delhi court said that the Delhi police was bent on prosecuting a hotel owner for a rape that took place inside her hotel more than the actual culprit, saying that this case “poses a serious question on the functioning of police”.

After a woman said that she was raped inside a hotel in Delhi, local police arrested the accused and the hotel owner. The police said that a similar offence had taken place in the same hotel, the establishment did not have proper documents for operating 20 rooms, and hence, the hotel was being used for similar purposes.

On May 4, Additional Sessions Judge Sushil Kumar Tyagi noted with “anguish and displeasure, that the police authority has invoked such serious and draconian provisions” under sections of rape and criminal conspiracy, among other IPC sections, which prescribes very stringent punishment against the hotel owner. The judge also asked the Delhi police commissioner to take necessary action.

The court said that just because the hotel staff did not verify the identity of the survivor, it does not make the hotel owner a facilitator or conspirator in the rape. “No connection is found between the hotel owner and the accused. There is not even a remote connection for conspiracy between hotel owner and the accused, for committing the offence of rape. To my mind, with no stretch of imagination can the hotel owner be held liable for conspiracy with accused for the offence of rape,” the judge said.

The court said it was pertinent to observe the “pick and choose policy of the investigating agency” as a previous case of rape was registered in the same hotel where these stringent sections were not invoked against the hotel owner.

The judge said that the police was “bent upon to prosecute the hotel owner more than the main accused of rape. These are very disturbing and disappointing features of the present case”. The court stressed that senior officers, like assistant commissioners of police and deputy commissioners of police, are mandated to ensure that the investigation is fairly conducted and they are under statutory duty to monitor the investigation.

“The above­mentioned unique facts of this case, the manner of investigation and filing of chargesheet poses a serious question upon the functioning of police. Such an action would not have been possible without it being flowing from the higher echelons of power,” court said.

The court said that by invoking all the irrelevant sections of statutes, in general understanding, without even referring to the definitions of the offences, the investigating officer has not discharged his duties responsibly, neither the senior officers, who forwarded the chargesheet for trial or those officers who persuaded such an action.

“This action has not only led to wastage of precious judicial time but also made the case of rape cumbersome and lengthy, which needs to be tried on fast track basis,” the court said.

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