Anticipatory bail granted to Ryan School Trustees in Pradyuman Thakur murder case

Punjab and Haryana High Court: In relation to the Pradyuman Thakur case, the owners of Ryan School- Pintos approached the High Court with their anticipatory bail application in FIRs for offences punishable under S. 302 of thePenal Code, S. 25 of Arms Act, S. 75 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2005 and S. 12 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 at Police Station Bhondsi, Gurugram.

The child was brutally murdered on morning of 8th September, 2017. Counsel for the petitioners submitted that even CBI- the investigation agency entrusted with the investigation of this case did not feel that there was any need or necessity to call the petitioners for investigation. However, they said that the main stress of CBI is on the point that there was some negligence on the part of school authority and lapse in security of students. The counsel apprised the Court of the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Pinto are trustees of Saint Xavier’s Education Trust, which is running around 54 schools throughout India and contended that the trustees are never involved in the direct administration of their institutes and only thing they do is to take policy decisions.

Also, the petitioners said that while CBI was looking for the conspiracy angle of the case but has not found any evidence regarding involvement of the petitioners. Another important contention by the petitioner was that CBI was refusing their bail application only with the plea that there is possibility of their being member of the conspiracy behind the murder of a student, however, S. 120-B IPC has not been added in this case so far.

CBI on the other hand opposed the bail application stating that the investigation is at a crucial stage, as such, grant of anticipatory bail to the petitioners will hamper the further investigation. The Court on hearing both the parties observed that the status of petitioners with regard to the management of the school in which crime was committed, is yet to be ascertained. It further noted that it will also be a point of investigation for CBI as to whether the petitioners, while living in Mumbai, are directly responsible for any lapse of the Administration in the school.

Surinder Gupta, J. noted that till now in the investigation, there was not even a single pointer towards the petitioners of their involvement in the crime and some negligence on part of the trustees in administration of the school would not act as evidence of their involvement in commission of murder until there is a substantial proof directing that. Hence, the Court granted them the anticipatory bail along with the directions that they must make themselves available for interrogation by the investigating agency as and when required and not to directly or indirectly make any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the accusation against them so as to dissuade him from disclosing such facts to the court or to investigating agency. [Ryan Augustine Pinto v. State of Haryana,  2017 SCC OnLine P&H 3063, decided on 21.11.2017]

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