Former DGP sentenced to 3 years of rigorous imprisonment for sexual harassment of female IPS officer

With this verdict, ex-special DGP Rajesh Das became the first IPS officer in the country to be convicted in a sexual harassment case.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published Jun 16, 2023 | 6:02 PM Updated Jun 16, 2023 | 6:03 PM

Rajesh Das was a senior IPS officer who was appointed as a Special DGP in the AIADMK regime. (Creative Commons)

A magistrate court in Tamil Nadu’s Viluppuram district on Friday, 16 June, found a suspended director general of police guilty in a sexual harassment case filed by a female IPS officer.

The Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) of Viluppuram sentenced Rajesh Das, a senior IPS officer who was a special DGP in the AIADMK regime, to three years of Rigorous Imprisonment (RI) under Section 354 (a) of the Indian Penal Code, and slapped a fine of ₹10,000.

The court also sentenced him to three years of RI under Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Woman (Amendment) Act, 2002, and imposed a fine of ₹10,000.

CJM M Pushparani ordered the sentences to be run concurrently.

Further, the CJM imposed a fine of ₹500 on R Kannan, the then-superintendent of police (SP) of Chengalpattu, who was found guilty of stopping the female officer from filing a complaint against the special DGP.

Kannan confronted the officer and forced her to talk to Rajesh Das on the phone.

Meanwhile, Das approached the District Sessions Court to obtain bail in order to file an appeal in the case.

Accepting the prayer, the court allowed bail to the convicted officer and granted 30 days’ time to appeal against the conviction and sentence.

Rajesh Das is the first IPS officer to be convicted in a sexual harassment case in the country.

Also read: IPS officer accused of custodial torture suspended from service

The incident

On 21 February 2021, while the female IPS officer was on bandobast duty during the election campaign of the then-chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, Rajesh Das, who was monitoring the security arrangements of the chief minister, asked the IPS officer — who was also a district superintendent of police — to get into his car.

The special DGP then allegedly molested the female officer.

She subsequently proceeded to the police headquarters in Chennai to lodge a complaint against the behaviour of the special DGP.

A group of IPS officers tried to prevent the IPS officer from lodging a complaint against the special DGP.

As the incident was reported on in the news, the then-AIADMK government constituted a six-member committee — headed by the then-additional chief secretary Jayashree Raghunandan — to conduct an inquiry into the matter and submit a report.

The panel’s members included ADGP Seema Agrawal, IG A Arun, DIG B Shamoondeswari, the DGP office’s Chief Administrative Officer VK Ramesh Babu, and International Justice Mission’s programme management head Loretta Jhona.

Also Read: Meet the senior IAS, IPS officers in the race for top posts in TN

HC takes suo motu cognizance 

Meanwhile, the Madras High Court took suo motu cognizance of the incident in March 2021.

The court criticised the alleged incident and expressed its displeasure in the manner in which the special DGP used his contacts and power to prevent the victim officer from filing the suit against him.

The court also stated that it would monitor the case directly.

Further, the Madras High Court, which was already monitoring the case regularly, directed the Viluppuram CJM to proceed further, frame charges, and conduct the trial on a day-to-day basis.

It also directed the CJM to complete the case on or before 20 December, 2021, and file a compliance report.

Also read: IPS officer who fired on Sterlite protestors accused of sexual abuse

CB-CID takes over investigation 

Also in March 2021, the case was transferred to the Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID) for further investigation.

The CB-CID filed an FIR against the special DGP and Chengalpattu SP, charging them under Sections 354A(2), 341, and 506(1) of the IPC and Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Woman Act, 2022

On the direction of the court, the state government suspended Rajesh Das from service.

Further, the CB-CID made a recommendation to the Additional Chief Secretary to the Government, Home Department, to initiate departmental proceedings against Superintendent of Police Kannan, HM Jayaram IPS, Superintendent of Police Gunasekaran, Varun Kumar IPS, and Annie Vijaya IPS.

Also read: Case involving IPS officer Balveer Singh transferred to CB-CID

Legal impediments

A final report of the case was filed before the CJM of Viluppuram, on 29 July 2021.

Meanwhile, Rajesh Das approached the Supreme Court against the direct monitoring of the case by the high court.

On August 2021, the Supreme Court ended the monitoring of the high court and directed the trial court to consider the matter on its own merit.

During the trial, the magistrate’s court found that vital pieces of material evidence — including records of conversations between the former special DGP and the female IPS officer, records of conversations on the cellphone, and WhatsApp message records — went missing from the court.

The court ordered a memo to court staff who misplaced evidence. Later, a few of the materials were found.

Meanwhile, Rajesh Das moved the Madras High Court for a direction to recall and cross-examine the complainant, which was dismissed by the high court.

A 400-page chargesheet was filed in the trial court and the case was tried on Friday.