The Supreme Court on Monday, February 14, issued a notice to the respondents of a plea filed by Tamil Nadu challenging the order of the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court transferring the probe of the Thanjavur student suicide case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The Supreme Court also said that the investigation will continue as per the High Court order.
A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M Trivedi issued the notice on the appeal filed by the Tamil Nadu DGP challenging the Madras HC order. The top court said that there are two aspects of the matter, one is there are certain observations recorded in the impugned judgment and the second is regarding the final order directing probe by CBI. The apex court said it might not be appropriate for it to interject in the investigation of the CBI but it will issue notice on the first aspect.
"Issue notice returnable in three weeks... In the meanwhile, the investigation in terms of the impugned order to continue," the bench said. The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court, on January 31, had transferred the suicide case of 17-year-old Lavanya, a Class 12 student who died on January 19, to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). A bench comprising Justice GS Swaminathan passed the orders after hearing a plea by Lavanya’s father seeking a probe by a central agency into his daughter’s death.
The Tamil Nadu government, through the DGP, on February 3 had moved the Supreme Court challenging the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) order. Meanwhile, the father of the girl has also filed a caveat requesting the apex court not to pass any order, without hearing him in the matter.
Lavanya lived in a boarding house of the Sacred Hearts Higher Secondary School in Michaelpatti in Thanjavur. Her death stirred a political controversy in the state. In a 44-second video that was reportedly shot before her death, Lavanya said that one Raquel Mary had asked her to convert to Christianity, which she and her parents refused. TNM earlier reported that there are a total of four videos that have surfaced, of which two were initially leaked. Only one of the videos mentions the conversion. While one is about her personal details, another is about how she was made to do chores at the school, and one is about her stepmother.
Lavanya’s father later filed a petition at the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court saying that he had lost faith in the investigation by the Thanjavur police and demanded an inquiry by the CB-CID or any other similar independent investigating agency.
While passing orders, Justice Swaminathan had severely criticised the police and politicians for ‘jumping to conclusions’. Further, pointing to an interview given by School Education Minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi, the judge stated, “Since a high ranking minister himself has taken a stand, investigation cannot continue with the state police.” The judge then ordered the Director of CBI to assign an officer to take over the investigation of the case from the state police.
(With PTI inputs)