Granting anticipatory bail to a school principal booked for allegedly hurling casteist abuses on a teacher, the Bombay High Court recently expressed displeasure over the complainant’s act of putting up a banner seeking the principal’s arrest.
The court observed that owing to a performance-related issue, the teacher had been censured by the said school and the complainant cannot seek “extra-judicial remedies” to pressurise the prosecution and parties should desist from such acts to enable it to do its duty as per the law.
A vacation bench of Justice Milind N Jadhav on May 27 passed an order in a criminal appeal by Lekha Visaria, principal of Swami Vivekanand Vidyalaya, Kurla, apprehending arrest on an FIR registered at Nehru Nagar Police station for offences punishable under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
According to the FIR filed by the teacher, in 2021, several mistakes were found in marksheets of Class 10 students and Visaria had sought an explanation from all teachers and asked them to give letters of apology. On August 15, last year, the appellant allegedly scolded some teachers for not submitting apology letters and insulted the complainant saying she was unfit to teach English.
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It is further alleged that on October 5, last year, the complainant was pulled up by Visaria for not giving an apology letter. The principal allegedly said that the complainant belonged to a lower caste and was, therefore, only fit to teach the lower classes and not 9 or 10.
Later that month, a memo was issued to the complainant, informing that her explanation was not satisfactory and further mistakes on her part will not be tolerated. She was transferred to teach in classes 5 and 6. Aggrieved, she lodged a complaint on December 23 and the FIR was registered on February 9. The trial court rejected appellant’s pre-arrest bail plea, prompting her to approach the high court.
Advocates Rishi Bhuta, Ankita Bamboli and Sagar Shahani, arguing for the appellant, said there was no personal animosity with the complainant and no reference to her caste and a conscious decision was taken based on her performance, which irked her. The lawyers said the appellant principal’s custodial interrogation was not required as she has willingly cooperated with the probe and will continue the same.
After perusing material on record, the bench noted that there was “substantial delay in lodging the report as also the FIR” and there is “no specific casteist remark attributable to the complainant about her caste”.
Referring to the banner put up by the complainant in a public place, Justice Jadhav noted, “This approach of the informant certainly would emanate from the thought of seeking vengeance against the appellant. Parties should desist from such acts and allow the prosecution to do its duty in accordance with law. The appellant has made out a case for grant of anticipatory bail.”