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Monday, June 5, 2023

Lavanya case in SC: NCPCR to submit evidence found after receiving 3500 complaints

The Supreme Court has allowed the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights(NCPCR) to submit documents in the Lavanya case. NCPCR had asked to allow them to submit the information found by its during an independent investigation. NCPCR revealed that it received a whooping number, 3,545, of complaints which sought the commission to investigate the functioning of the concerned Christian institution.

The Tamil Nadu government had appealed against the Madras HC’s decision to transfer the case to CBI. NCPCR had filed an application to intervene in the case. Swarupama Chaturvedi, the lawyer appearing for NCPCR sought the court to allow the commission to submit the evidence it found through its investigation in Thanjavur and the girl’s native.

NCPCR’s intervention application said,  “The NCPCR feels duty bound to submit findings of its inquiry to assist the Court with its findings and has come to the Court in the hope that no other child would suffer from the similar fate as the child victim and to assist the Court in reaching a fair, just and equitable decision”. NCPCR team led by Chairman Priyank Kanoongo had investigated the police officers, school management, workers, Lavanya’s parents and the doctors who treated her.

It founded that there were gaps in police investigation and that the ‘hostel’ Lavanya was made to stay is actually an orphanage whose license expired last year. NCPCR’s statement regarding the investigation said that children were made to stay there illegally and the district authorities were unaware of the fact that children were staying there. Hindu Post had reported that the ‘hostel’ is indeed an orphanage as per information given in Catholic portals and that Vatican had directly funded the orphanage under

Giving permission to intervene in the case, SC allowed NCPCR to file documents pertaining to the issue in a sealed cover. The Tamil Nadu government, through high ranked police officers and ministers, had tried to sabotage the investigation by rejecting the possibilities of the girl being forced to convert. In fact a DMK MLA felicitated the prime accused, warden Sahaya Mary, when she came out of the jail after securing bail.

The 17 year old Hindu girl Lavanya had accused the nuns at the Sacred Heart Higher Secondary School in Michaelpatti, Thanjavur, of forcing her to convert to Christianity. She was promised good education and job in return. However she refused to convert as a result of which she was tortured by the nuns at St.Michael’s Home for Children. She was made to clean rooms, toilets, keep books and cook. Unable to bear the harassment she consumed pesticide and gave a dying declaration mentioning Sahaya Mary and Racheline Mary as the ones who asked her to convert. She died on January 19 in Thanjavur Medical College Hospital.

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