Ankita Bhandari murder case mentioned before SC, plea criticises U’khand’s revenue police system

An intervention application has been moved in the Supreme Court claiming that 19-year-old Ankita Bhandari, a resort employee who was allegedly murdered by her employer, fell victim to the century-old practice of the revenue police system in Uttarakhand.

The intervention application, filed by journalist Anu Pant, submitted that the present revenue police system prevailing in Uttarakhand is unconstitutional as it deprives the citizens of the state of the equal protection of law as all the citizens are not been given the same treatment in detection and prevention, investigation and trial of criminal cases. Therefore, by practicing two different police systems in Uttarakhand, the state has gone against the spirit and essence of the Constitution, it added.

The petitioner said the system, in which revenue officials had been given police functions, had been abolished by the state High Court. However, the state government filed an appeal, which is pending in the apex court and no hearing has been done on it since 2019. The petitioner said the system was responsible for the delay in the complaint being registered.

A counsel mentioned the matter on Monday before a bench headed by Chief Justice U.U. Lalit at 4 p.m. and sought hearing on the application. The Chief Justice asked the counsel to mention the matter again on Tuesday with relevant documents.

The plea said Uttarakhand is the only state, where revenue collection officials are tasked with the job of policing, especially in the hill regions.

“The recent unfortunate and distressing incident of murder of 19-year-old girl Ankita Bhandari, a text book example of failure of century old revenue police system prevailing in the state of Uttarakhand leading to massive outrage amongst the public at large,” it said.

The plea added, “It is pertinent to mention that the state of Uttarakhand after its inception has still continuing with the revenue police system. ….. the organisational set up of Uttarakhand Police as has been mentioned on the official portal states that work of revenue police area comprises 61.19 per cent whereas the work of regular aolice Area comprises only 38.81 per cent.”

The plea said the major police work is being carried out by the unequipped, inexperienced, untrained, and century-old revenue police system in Uttarakhand.

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