Saying that the “basic tenets of criminal liability are not swept up in the name of sentiments of the community” and alleging that an “unprecedented media blitz” has been unleashed in the case, the trustees of the Ryan International Group of Institutions Saturday approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court for anticipatory bail in the murder case of a seven-year-old student in the Gurgaon school.
Founding chairman of the group Augustine Pinto, managing director Grace Pinto and the group’s CEO Ryan Pinto, in their plea, said it is “unimaginable” that they could be involved in the alleged crime and be charged with the offences stated in the FIR. “The petitioner apprehends that the probe agencies may, under pressure from the wrath of public opinion, fail to fully appreciate the legal position. Notwithstanding the diabolical nature of the crime… the ends of justice call for an objective evaluation of the circumstances,” they said in the plea, filed through senior advocate R S Cheema and advocate Arshdeep Singh Cheema.
Class II student Pradyuman Thakur was found with his throat slit inside the washroom of Ryan International School, Bhondsi, on September 8. Police had registered an FIR under IPC sections 302 (murder) and 25 of the Arms Act. Later, sections 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act and 12 of the POCSO Act were added.
The trustees said the murder “has been seemingly committed by an individual with no premeditation… which could not have been predicted despite necessary precautions and security measures taken by the school”.
They also alleged that they apprehend “coercive action” from Gurgaon Police because of media reports on the “non-action of the investigating agency” against school authorities. Augustine and Grace, in their petition, said they are trustees of Saint Xaviers Educational Trust, which runs 54 schools across the country and only deals with policy framework, financial policies, academic inputs and issuance of strategic directions related to imparting of education in the schools. “They… are not involved in day-to-day administration of various schools….,” the plea said, adding that the schools are managed by local committees.
The trustees also said they belong to a highly respected family and there is no likelihood of them fleeing from justice. They added that the arrest will only be done to “humiliate and harass” them. The hearing is likely to take time as the court registry did not accept the petition on Saturday, due to lack of clarity in the case FIR copy which had been attached with the plea. The anticipatory bail plea will now be filed on Monday.