Supreme Court Grants Bail To A Priest Accused Of Harassing & Abetting Suicide Of A Girl In School
The Supreme Court today in a Special Leave Petition, granted bail to Father Felix Raj, Principal of Hartman Inter College, Gazipur, where the Priest is accused under Section 306 IPC for allegedly harassing and abetting suicide of a girl in the School. The deceased in the present case consumed poison in the school premises.
The Court had earlier issued notice to the State in the matter. The Allahabad High Court in the impugned order dated July 7, 2023, had denied bail considering the strong averments made and the evidence produced.
A bench of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice C.T. Ravikumar thus observed, "We have heard the counsel for the parties; it is not disputed that the investigation has been completed, and a charge sheet has been filed, in these circumstances the petitioner is directed to be enlarged on bail on such terms and conditions that the trial court may please".
Senior Advocate R. Basant appeared for the petitioner and AOR Garvesh Kabra appeared for the respondent.
During the arguments today, Basant argued that there are identical narrations leading to the fact that the mental condition of the deceased was not stable. Further, as Kabra requested the Court for the petitioner to cooperate and not to prolong the trial, said, "what happens is that after bail, they try to prolong especially...".
To which Justice Bhat retorted by saying, "Let's not assume always".
On September 5, 2023, when the matter was listed for the first time before a bench of Justice C.T Ravikumar and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia, after issuing notice, the bench while refusing to grant interim bail gave a day's time to the respondent.
Yesterday, on Kabra's submission, Justice Dhulia said, “You are right, because she said don’t leave this Principal, but purely on that basis you say it is (Section) 306 abetment to suicide”.
“The first aid treatment which ought to have been given in the school, should have been given on that day itself”, responded Kabra.
“Oh, so he saw to it that she dies?”, Justice Dhulia asked.
“Might be your lordships”, Kabra said in response.
On which Justice Dhulia quickly exclaimed, “Might be?”.
However, Kabra then responded by stating, “I am not saying that. That’s why I am saying, I need instructions on that and just praying if it could be taken next week”.
“Then it should be (Section) 302 actually”, said Justice Dhulia.
To which Kabra stated that he doesn’t say anything on that, however submitted, “The trial court while framing the charge can…”. Then he further substantiated on the evidence that the first aid was not given to the deceased in the matter.
Justice Dhulia then said, “Not every hospital can give this kind of an aid. It has to go to a government hospital because these are the people who are equipped with it. You go to a private hospital they may not even know what is to be done”.
In the present matter, the victim was studying in the school of which Father Felix-the petitioner was the Principal since 2019. As per the statements recorded under Section 161 CrPC, the father of the deceased alleged that while he was taking his daughter to the hospital, she confided in him and asked him “not to let go of the Priest”.
As per the sister's statements, the deceased had seen the petitioner with a girl in a compromising situation in the School’s changing room. Resultantly, as a consequence the other girl students on persuasion from the Father, accordingly, started harassing her and commenting upon her.
She had further stated, that teachers were not really fond of the deceased. As per the averments made, the petitioner used to inflict unnecessary punishments on her without any due reason.
The brother in his statement alleged mental torture and harassment by the petitioner.
However, the petitioner contended that the victim was in a habit of eating paper, which was slowly turning into a serious disorder. It was further contended that she used to faint in School quite often, and was being treated at BHU Varanasi for the alleged ‘mental disorder’.
The petitioner averred that he got to know that the victim died on May 10, 2023 during treatment, through a newspaper report. Further argued that possibly, because of the mental disorder the victim must have consumed poison.The petitioner before the High Court had also relied on the judgment of the Supreme Court in V.P. Singh v. The State of Punjab and Others. However, while relying on the factual matrix and the evidence produced, a bench of Justice Dr. Gautam Chowdhary of the Allahabad High Court had rejected the bail application.