Explain reasons for arresting Kallakurichi school correspondent, his wife and two teachers, HC tells police

Judge grants police time till Friday to establish if there is any basis to keep them in judicial custody for over 38 days

August 24, 2022 07:42 pm | Updated 07:42 pm IST - CHENNAI

The police were told to submit materials to justify their act of having arrested the four individuals only after violence broke out on July 17, though a case of suicide was registered on July 13.

The police were told to submit materials to justify their act of having arrested the four individuals only after violence broke out on July 17, though a case of suicide was registered on July 13.

The Madras High Court on Wednesday directed the State police to explain the reasons for having arrested a correspondent, his wife and two teachers of a private school at Kaniyamoor in Kallakurichi district, where a Class XII girl’s death on July 13 led to large-scale violence on July 17.

Justice G.K. Ilanthiraiyan granted the police time till Friday to submit materials to justify their act of having arrested the four individuals only after the violence broke out in the locality on July 17, though a case of suicide was registered by the Chinnasalem police, on the basis of a complaint lodged by the victim’s mother, on July 13.

Suspecting that the arrests were a knee-jerk reaction to control the violence, the judge sought to know if there was any legal basis for having kept the present bail petitioners, E.C. Ravikumar, 47, his wife R.S. Shanthi, 43, and the two teachers, Kiruthika Jayaraj, alias Keerthika Jayaraj, 27, and L. Haripriya, 40, in judicial custody since July 18.

When advocate R. Sankarasubbu, representing the complainant, objected to the grant of bail to the four petitioners on the ground that the needle of suspicion was being pointed even at the son of the school correspondent, the judge asked him to take out an appropriate application for intervening in the hearing of the bail petition.

Representing the petitioners, Senior Counsel S. Prabakaran said his clients had nothing to do with the unfortunate death of the girl inside the school. Yet, the Chinnasalem police altered the FIR from Section 174 (police to inquire regarding suicide) of the CrPC to other penal provisions.

The altered FIR included charges under Section 305 (abatement of suicide of child) of the IPC and Section 7 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2000, and Section 4(B)(ii) of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act of 2002, since the victim’s parents suspected foul play behind her death.

After the violence, the probe was transferred to the Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department, which registered a separate FIR under Section 174(1) of the CrPC. The second FIR was not altered till date, the petitioners claimed. Claiming to have been subjected to custodial interrogation too, the petitioners said they had extended full cooperation.

Further, pointing out that two post-mortems had been conducted on the victim’s body, the petitioners said the second post-mortem report was also subjected to a review by an expert team of doctors from Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (Jipmer) in Puducherry, as per High Court directions.

As the petitioners had been in judicial custody for more than 38 days because of the dismissal of their previous bail applications by a Mahila Court in Villupuram on August 18, they urged the High Court to release them on bail, and agreed to abide by the conditions to be imposed by the court.

(Assistance for overcoming suicidal thoughts is available on the State’s health helpline 104 and Sneha’s suicide prevention helpline 044-24640050.)

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