Ruchika Girhotra was thrown out in a “selective, arbitrary, biased and unwarranted manner” by Sacred Heart School “under outside compelling circumstances”, the magisterial Inquiry into the expulsion has found.
This would “certainly have contributed to mortifying the self-esteem, self-confidence, integrity and reputation of a young minor girl, thereby traumatizing and indelibly scarring her impressionable mind,” says the report, released by the Chandigarh Administration today.
The 45-page report has recommended that Principal Sister S. Sebastina, who was also principal when Ruchika was expelled, should be stripped of the State Award conferred on her in 2005.
Copies of the findings should be sent to CBSE and the Superintendent of Police, Panchkula, for “appropriate legal action” against the school and the principal, says the report, which has been endorsed by the Union Territory Administration.
Sub-Divisional Magistrate Prerna Puri found that Ruchika was the only student in the history of Sacred Heart ever to have been expelled on grounds of non-payment of school fees. In the 22 years between 1987 and 2009, a total 135 students defaulted in paying their fees, but no one except Ruchika was expelled.
Among the students who defaulted was Priyanjli Rathore, the daughter of S P S Rathore, the former DGP of Haryana who has been convicted of molesting Ruchika, and who is accused by the family of driving Ruchika to suicide.
Rathore’s daughter, who was Ruchika’s batchmate, defaulted on two occasions — one of which was in 1990, the same year in which Ruchika was expelled.
In fact, a total of 17 students defaulted in 1990-91, eight of whom did not pay their fees for a period longer than Ruchika’s. Ruchika was expelled for not paying fees for April-September 1990; one of her classmates paid for the first time only in October 1990.
Ruchika had defaulted for a period of eight months the previous year as well, when she was in Class 9. But no action was taken then. When Rathore molested her, she was in Class 10 — that incident happened in August, and a month later, she was expelled.
The Inquiry Officer went through 22 years’ records in the school and the Indian Bank where fees were deposited, in reaching her conclusions. The Inquiry recorded the statements of school officials, Ruchika’s teachers, classmates, family members and S P S Rathore.
Sister Sebastina told the SDM that “verbal instructions were issued to the school bursar to inform the class teacher to strike off the name of Ruchika Girhotra from the school rolls” after she failed to pay her fees. The principal conceded that “no notice/warning/letter was given to the parents of Ruchika Girhotra regarding non payment of fees”.
Sister Sebastina told the Inquiry that she had decided independently to expel Ruchika, and “there was no pressure from any quarter that influenced her decision in this regard whatsoever”.
SDM Puri, however, wrote that the principal’s claim “cannot be believed in the face of telling circumstances of the case”.
On the Girhotra family’s charge that the school acted on Rathore’s behest, the SDM wrote, “Although no direct evidence is available, it is quite probable in view of the strong circumstantial evidence to the effect that Ruchika’s expulsion was proximate in time and followed close on the heels of the incident of molestation. This aspect in my view requires an in-depth and thorough probe.”
The severe indictment of the principal notwithstanding, the UT Administration has ruled out action against the school. “As the future of 2,500 students is at stake, we don’t press for cancelling the school’s affiliation for one person’s mistake,” said UT Secretary (Education-cum-Home) Ram Niwas.
“However, legal action will take its course, for which we have forwarded the report’s copy to Panchkula police for necessary action,” he added.
कोई भी मूल्य एवं संस्कृति तब तक जीवित नहीं रह सकती जब तक वह आचरण में नहीं है.