The report of the two-member panel instituted to probe the mid-day meal tragedy in Chapra, Bihar, has concluded that the school’s principal, Meena Kumari, displayed “gross criminal negligence” and flouted the protocol for food testing, R. Laxmanan, State director for mid-day meal, told The Hindu.

“The probe has pinned the final responsibility on the headmistress. The panel concluded that she did not follow the instructions of the department pertaining to tasting the food beforehand. They concluded that this is a case of gross criminal negligence on the part of the headmistress,” Mr. Laxmanan said.

The committee also confirmed the Education department’s findings that the headmistress dismissed the misgivings of the cook regarding the cooking oil. “In spite of the cook pointing out that the oil had turned black and was emitting a foul smell, the headmistress told her to carry on, insisting it was of good quality,” he said.

In addition, the inquiry report criticised general hygiene conditions at the Gandaman primary school, where the poisoned mid-day meal was served on Tuesday. The contaminated food took the lives of 23 children, aged between three and 12.