In a relief for Sacred Heart School, Sector 26, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has stayed an inquiry ordered by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) into the “expulsion” of late Ruchika Girhotra soon after she had complained of molestation by former Haryana DGP S S Rathore nearly two decades ago.
CBSE had issued a notice to the school last December, ordering a probe into the incident. The board had informed the school about a three-member committee constituted by it to look into the issue.
The committee constituted a representative of CBSE, one from director public instructions (DPI) and one representative of the school.
The notice was sent after the school had informed the CBSE about the “clean chit” the authorities gave themselves in an in-house inquiry into the incident. Following the “clean chit”, the CBSE had decided to constitute a fresh committee to probe the accusations levelled against the school authorities.
Aggrieved, the school moved the High Court. Speaking on behalf of the school, Advocate Arshdeep Singh Cheema argued that this is the third inquiry which has been ordered against the institution and that there cannot be multiple inquiries for one incident. Finding force in the contentions raised, the high court has stayed the CBSE inquiry against the school.
It might be recalled that in 2010, UT Administration had indicted the school authorities in an inquiry held by a sub-divisional magistrate (SDM). Following UT’s stinging indictment, the CBSE had asked the school authorities to hold an in-house inquiry. The school’s inquiry had found nothing amiss with the expulsion of Ruchika by the school authorities.
Following this, the CBSE in December had decided to hold another inquiry and had constituted a three-member committee. It was this inquiry against which the school approached the high court. It might be mentioned here that another petition filed by the school, challenging the scathing indicting report of UT Administration, is pending adjudication in a Chandigarh court.
In its inquiry report, the Chandigarh Administration in 2010 had ruled that “Ruchika Girhotra was thrown out in a selective, arbitrary, biased and unwarranted manner by Sacred Heart School under outside compelling circumstances”.
It further read “this would certainly have contributed to mortifying the self-esteem, self-confidence, integrity and reputation of a young minor girl, thereby traumatising and indelibly scarring her impressionable mind”.
The 45-page report had recommended that the then Principal Sister S Sebastina, who was also principal when Ruchika was expelled, should be stripped of the State Award conferred on her in 2005. Copy of the said report was also sent to CBSE for “appropriate legal action”.