A Bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Bela M. Trivedi today issued notice on the appeals filed by the State of Tamil Nadu and the management of the School, against the Judgment of the Madras High Court directing handing over of the investigation in the Tamil Naud forced conversion-suicide case, only on a limited question.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi along with Senior Advocate P. Wilson appeared for the State of Tamil Nadu whereas, Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani appeared for the father of the victim girl, who had filed a caveat before the Supreme Court.
The Bench asked Mukul Rohatgi when the matter was taken whether he was aggrieved by the observations in the judgment as well as the final direction to transfer the investigation to the CBI.
Rohatgi replied by saying that the State is aggrieved by both.
The Court indicated at the outset that it is not inclined to interfere with the direction to entrust the investigation to the CBI. "It may not be appropriate for us to interject investigation by the CBI", the Court said.
Mukul Rohatgi then objected to the manner in which the Madras High Court court passed "day to day orders" in a suicide case. "This is not a political issue", he added.
Rohatgi also submitted that "There was no prayer for CBI inquiry. There is no conversion issue in the case".
The Bench replied by saying, "This is a case where something happened during the pendency of the case that has weighed with the court. Don't make it a prestige issue".
Senior Adv. P. Wilson submitted, "We are not against the transfer of investigation to CB-CID. We were taken by surprise when CBI inquiry was sought. The Judge did not post the matter for final hearing and passed the order without pleadings".
Wilson also added that the High Court Judge's roster was only to hear 482 CrPC matters. "Once CBI inquiry was sought, the matter should have been placed before the Chief Justice", he said.
The Bench issued notice on the aspect of observations in the Judgment of the High Court, including against the state police, while clarifying that investigation already entrusted to the CBI will continue in the meanwhile.
The case had caused a huge commotion in Tamil Nadu and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had taken cognizance of the case. The authority had thereafter issued a press release stating that the State of Tamil Nadu is not extending support to its inquiry.
Justice G. R. Swaminathan of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court had cited five reasons for transferring the investigation to the CBI. (read analysis)
One of the reasons cited by the High Court was that Ministers of the state had expressed opinions about the case in public, taking sides even when the police investigation was ongoing. Even after the filing of the appeal by the State, it had come out that an MLA of the ruling party had felicitated the accused in the case upon being released on bail.