Granting stay on the arrest of the owners of the Ryan Group of Institutes till October 7, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday made it clear that the group’s founding chairman Augustine Pinto, managing director Grace Pinto and their son, Ryan Pinto, will have to join the ongoing probe into the seven-year-old student’s murder if required by the investigating agency.
During the resumed hearing of the anticipatory bail pleas of the school trustees and their son, the counsel representing the CBI — which recently took over the murder probe — sought time to submit its response in the case and prayed for adjournment to submit the reply. The counsel representing the Pinto family argued that the pleas were pending since September 19 and said the the trio should be protected from the possible arrests if the case is again adjourned.
Justice Surinder Gupta, while ordering stay on the arrests of the three, said: “It will be appropriate that petitions be heard on merit and decided instead of hearing the part arguments, which will certainly touch merits of the case.” The observation came after the CBI counsel opposed the interim protection sought by the petitioners and sought two days time for submitting the response.
The interim protection from the arrest, which is just short of the anticipatory bail, is a major relief for the school trustees and their son as it was first time that their pleas were finally heard by the High Court. Though the three had approached the High Court on September 16, one of the judges, Justice A B Chaudhari, had recused from the case for personal reasons on September 19.
The case was later listed before the single bench of Justice Inderjit Singh, who issued notice to the state government for its response in the case before deciding on the anticipatory bail pleas. The case had to be again transferred to another bench, which is meant for CBI cases, after the central investigating agency took over the probe last Friday.
Augustine and Grace in their pleas said it was “unimaginable” that they could be involved in the crime and be charged with the offences mentioned in the FIR. The counsel representing their son and the group CEO told the High Court that he was not even linked to the Gurgoan school and was being named in the case only because he happens to be the son of the school trustees.
They also argued that they are residents of Mumbai and the the school is managed by the local committee. “The members of the trust… are not involved in day-to-day administration or management of various schools (run by the trust),” they have said in their pleas.
A Class II student was found with his throat slit inside a washroom of the Ryan International School, Bhondsi, on September 8. Police had registered an FIR under IPC Sector 302 (murder), Section 25 of the Arms Act, and later Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act and Section 12 of the POCSO Act were added to it.