Pradhyuman Thakur, a Class II student, was found murdered with his throat slit inside a washroom of the Ryan International School at Bhondsi in Gurugram in Haryana on September 8 this year. A knife with blood stains was reportedly recovered from the spot.
While the shocking incident triggered protests by parents outside the school premises, the Gurugram Police registered an FIR under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 302 (murder) and Section 25 of the Arms Act. Later, Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act and Section 12 of the POCSO Act were added to the FIR.
School bus conductor Ashok Kumar, who had started working at the school few months prior to the incident, was arrested in connection with the crime. The Gurugram Police alleged that the 42-year-old had tried to sodomise the victim and later killed him when he tried to raise an alarm. “The conductor has confessed to his involvement in the crime,” Birem Singh, ACP, Sohna Road had said. Ashok, too, publicly confessed to the crime at a press meet called by the Gurugram Police.
The post-mortem report of seven-year-old Pradhyuman revealed that shock and hemorrhage was the cause of his death. The report further stated that the external injury caused by single-edged sharp weapon and its consequences were enough to cause death in normal case of nature.
The Haryana government recommended a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe in the matter following outrage on September 15. The investigating agency took over the probe a week later and took custody of the bus conductor.
Thereafter, Barun Chandra Thakur, father of Pradhyuman, moved the Bombay High Court, seeking arrests of the trustees of Ryan International Schools — Augustine Francis Pinto, his wife Grace and their son Ryan. Following which, arrest warrants were issued against the trustees.
The Pintos, who are based in Mumbai, then approached the Bombay High Court as they apprehended arrest in the case after the school was accused of negligence in death of the seven-year-old boy. The HC rejected their transit anticipatory bail plea but granted them interim protection from arrest for a day to enable them to approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The trustees of the school then moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court, seeking anticipatory bail in the matter. However, on September 21, the High Court refused to stay the arrests of the trustees.
But on September 28, the High Court stayed the arrest of the Pinto family.
On October 4, the father of Pradhyuman approached the Supreme Court challenging the interim anticipatory bail granted to the three trustees in the case by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He contended that the High Court order was erroneous and should be set aside.
On October 5, the CBSE filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in which it said that the gruesome killing of Pradhyuman took place due to the “negligence” of the school’s administration as drivers, conductors were allowed to use washrooms meant only for kids and staff.
On October 7, the Punjab and Haryana High Court extended the interim protection from arrest to the owners of the Ryan Group of Institutions till December 5 and also granted regular bail to its arrested officials including the group’s northern zone head in the murder case.
On October 14, the Supreme Court issued notice to the owners of the Ryan International School while hearing Pradhyuman’s father’s plea.
On November 1, the Supreme Court asked the Punjab and Haryana High Court to decide in ten days the anticipatory bail pleas of the trustees.
On November 7, the CBI apprehended a class XI student in connection with the murder case. The accused student was picked up from his home in Sohna on Tuesday night. The investigating agency said that the Class XI boy committed the murder to get the scheduled exams and parent-teacher meeting postponed. The agency also cleared the school bus conductor Ashok Kumar, who was earlier arrested as a suspect.