HC rejects bail plea, stays Ryan trustees' arrest till Friday evening
Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday dismissed an anticipatory transit bail plea of trustees of Ryan International Schools but granted conditional interim stay on their arrest till 5 p.m. on Friday.
The trustees -- Augustine F. Pinto, his wife Grace and their son Ryan -- were directed by Justice A.S. Gadkari to deposit their passports with Mumbai Police by 9 p.m. on Thursday, failing which the interim protection would not be given.
The interim protection against arrest was granted to enable the three to approach a Haryana court in the case pertaining to the murder of seven-year-old Pradhuman Thakur at Ryan International School in Bhondsi area on the Sohna Road in Gurugram district on September 8.
The Pintos plan to rush to New Delhi and move the Supreme Court on Friday morning to seek anticipatory bail, or the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Chandigarh, informed sources close to the trustees said.
Legal experts opined that in case the Pintos failed to get judicial relief, they would be required to surrender before the court by 5 p.m. on Friday or face imminent arrest.
Apprehending arrest by Haryana Police, the Pintos -- who are trustees of St Xaviers Education Trust -- had filed an anticipatory transit bail application before the Bombay High Court on Monday.
The plea was strongly opposed by Additional Public Prosecutor Aruna S.K. Pai, who strongly argued on points of law and how the issue of no provision for anticipatory transit bail application had been settled by the Supreme Court.
Besides, the application was opposed by the boy's father Barun Chandra Thakur through his lawyers Sushil K. Tekriwal and Mamta Tekriwal, Parents Group for Students Welfare lawyer Manoj Dhall and Ambedkar Students Association through lawyer Gunratan Sadavarte.
Raising a point of law, Tekriwal argued that the Bombay HC had no jurisdiction as the tragic incident happened in Haryana.
Tekriwal's contention was that the trustees were "vicariously responsible, liable, accountable and answerable for the culpability and guilt for which the bail application should be dismissed in limine".
Pradhuman was found dead with his throat slit inside the school's washroom within an hour after his father dropped him at school on Friday morning.
Barring the three main trustees, details on other trustees were not known.
The case snowballed into a major national issue of safety and security of children in schools, with vociferous protests held by parents and activists outside Ryan schools in several states, including Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.