8 Years After British Teen Scarlett Keeling's Death In Goa, Both Accused Let Off / Ruchika molestation case: SC upholds conviction of former Haryana DGP, jail term reduced to 18 months

NB: These two judgements and what they tell us about the police, justice and the treatment of women in India should make us hang our heads in shame. Readers may kindly study the historical details of these cases to see the enormity of what has happened - both in terms of the nature of the crimes and the plight of the victims' families. DS

More than eight years after 15-year-old British teenager Scarlett Keeling's body was found on a beach in Goa, two men accused of raping her and causing her death have been acquitted by a court. Two beach shack workers Samson D'souza and Placido Carvalho were acquitted by the Goa children's court on Friday. They had been accused of sexually assaulting Scarlett after giving her a cocktail of drugs and leaving her unconscious in the shallow waters. Her body was found in the early hours of February 19, 2008.

"I am devastated. The Indian judicial system has totally let me down," said Scarlett's mother, Fiona MacKeown, who came to Goa hoping her daughter would finally get justice. Before the verdict, Ms MacKeown had told reporters: "It has been long time of waiting. Waiting for this day. I am nervous and hope that the struggle and wait will end."

The case was first investigated by the Goa police and was dismissed as a suicide but it was later handed over to the CBI, which eventually filed a charge-sheet against the two accused. Over the years, three public prosecutors and five judges have changed in the case. An eyewitness, a British national, Michael Mannion, did not testify after he reportedly had a nervous breakdown. Mr Mannion had told the police that he saw one of the two men sexually assaulting the teenager. Scarlett's death had thrown the spotlight on Goa's drugs underbelly, with her mother also accusing the local police of trying to cover up the case, claiming there was a drugs mafia at work.

Ruchika molestation case: SC upholds conviction of former Haryana DGP, jail term reduced
The Supreme Court Friday upheld conviction of former Haryana DGP S P S Rathore in Ruchika Girhotra molestation case but reduced his jail term from 18 months to the one already served by him. Rathore has been incarcerated for around 6 months during the pendency of the appeal. The court said that his conviction is being upheld but the order on sentence is being modified to the one he has already served. Rathore was initially awarded six months imprisonment by a magisterial court, which was subsequently enhanced to 18 months by the Sessions Court on the CBI’s appeal seeking enhancement of the punishment. The Punjab and Haryana High Court declined to interfere with the Sessions Court’s ruling and called his conduct “shameful”. Ruchika, 14, a budding tennis player, had committed suicide in 1993, three years after being molested by Rathore. 

The following is the timeline of Ruchika Girhotra’s case:
 August 12, 1990 – SPS Rathore, the then IG and President, Haryana Lawn Tennis Association (HLTA) reportedly molested Ruchika.
September 1990 – Ruchika was expelled from school for ‘indiscipline’ following her allegations against Rathore.
September 3, 1990 – An inquiry report indicted Rathore.
October 23, 1993 – Ruchika’s brother arrested in several theft cases.
December 28, 1993 – Ruchika consumed poisonous substance.
December 29, 1993 – Ruchika died.
August 21, 1998 – High Court directed CBI to conduct inquiry.
December 21, 2009 – CBI court sentenced six months of imprisonment to the accused.
January 12, 2010 – CBI registered three fresh FIRs — charging of Attempt to Murder, Abetment to Suicide and Doctoring of Documents.

November 10, 2010 – CBI filed closure.

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