The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Monday transferred the Lavanya suicide case to the Central Bureau of Investigation after the victim’s parents had filed a petition seeking a CBI probe into the matter.
The case was transferred to the CBI on the day when the NCPCR team is visiting Thanjavur to conduct a probe into the case and enquire with officials involved. The NCPCR had earlier alleged that the Tamil Nadu government was not cooperating with the enquiry presided over by their state team and therefore they had to get a team from the Centre to conduct the inquiry.
The girl, a student in standard 12th Class in Sacred Heart Higher Secondary School in Thirukattupali in Thanjavur in Tamilnadu was reportedly coerced by her missionary school into accepting Christianity. After she had refused to convert, the school authorities had prevented her from leaving the hostel during the Pongal holidays and instead forced her to clean the entire premises including toilets. Due to the constant harassment, the 17-year-old took her life by consuming pesticides used in the school garden.
A video of the victim’s call for help was published on social media where she was seen in an unconscious situation talking about her torture. The video, originally in Tamil (translated by The Commune) said, “They (school) had asked my parents in my presence if they can convert me to Christianity and help her for further studies. Since I didn’t accept, they kept scolding me.” She had named one Rachael Mary, who allegedly tortured her.
Victim’s parents had filed a petition seeking CBI investigation into the matter
The decision to hand over the case to CBI comes in the wake of a petition filed by the victim’s parent seeking a thorough investigation into the death of their child by the premier central agency. In the plea, the petitioner stated that they had lost the trust in Madras Police as confidential information about the girl and the evidence had got leaked in the media.
Seeking a thorough investigation by some central agency, the petitioner’s lawyer said “By releasing confidential information, they are trying to stir up a debate on the death of the girl. We have lost faith in the police. For fair investigation, the case has to be transferred to CBI.”
The petitioner’s counsel further said, “It is a matter to be investigated how the girl could obtain poison in the hostel. Statements made by the victim to third parties shortly before her death are to be taken as direct evidence. The principle of res gestae applies. So those statements cannot be questioned.”