SC Allows CBI to Probe 17-Year-Old Girl’s Death by Suicide in TN

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the CBI to proceed with the probe into the suicide of a 17-year-old girl in Thanjavur who was allegedly coerced to convert to Christianity.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M Trivedi issued notice on the appeal filed by the Tamil Nadu DGP challenging the Madras high court order

The apex court said there were two aspects in the matter – one, there are certain observations recorded in the impugned judgment and the second is regarding the final order directing probe by CBI.

The court said it might not be appropriate for it to interject in the CBI investigation but it would issue notice on the first aspect.

“Issue notice returnable in four weeks. Reply/ counter affidavit will be filed within two weeks… In the meanwhile, investigation will continue in terms of the impugned order,” the bench said.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Tamil Nadu, submitted this was not a case of any other ramifications and it is a case of suicide by poison.

“The high court interferes and day to day orders are passed. A dying declaration is on record. This is not an exceptional case. This is not a case which should reflect on the police of the state. It is not a political issue. Why such a big issue is made about it?” Rohatgi said, adding that the state has not been made a party and this has happened just because there is a conversion issue.

The bench however said, “Do not make it a prestige issue.”

Senior advocate P Wilson, also appearing for Tamil Nadu, submitted that no opportunity was given and the single bench overstepped the jurisdiction by ordering the CBI probe.

Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani appeared for the girl’s father.

The apex court was hearing the appeal filed by the director general of police (DGP), Tamil Nadu, against the Madras high court order of January 31, transferring the probe in the matter to the CBI.

The appeal contended that the high court erred in transferring the probe to the CBI and sought directions to expunge the remarks made against the investigation conducted by the Tamil Nadu police.

This court has a duty to render posthumous justice to the child. The foregoing circumstances cumulatively taken will definitely create an impression that the investigation is not proceeding on the right lines.

“Since a high ranking Hon’ble Minister himself has taken a stand, investigation cannot continue with the state police. I therefore direct the Director, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), New Delhi, to assign an officer to take over investigation from the State Police,” the high court had ruled.

CBI will undertake an independent investigation and shall not take into account any of the observations made in this order, the judge had stated.

The 17-year-old student of the missionary school in Thanjavur belonged to Ariyalur district and died by suicide a few days ago.

A hostel inmate, she was allegedly coerced to convert to Christianity. A video clip in this connection had been shared multiple times. The school management rejected the allegation and blamed vested interests.

The victim’s father demanded a CB-CID investigation “but in the final hearing, the original prayer was given up and the request was for transfer of investigation to CBI,” the court said.

In the police statement as well as in the statement before the judicial magistrate, the girl was stated to have directly and in unambiguous terms accused the hostel warden of burdening her by assigning her non-academic chores and unable to bear the same, she consumed pesticide.

The hostel warden Sister Saghayamary was arrested and remanded into judicial custody on the basis of the statement.


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