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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

SC directs TN government to hand over Lavanya case to CBI, asks to not make it a prestige issue

The Supreme Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to hand over papers of the Lavanya case to CBI and not make it into a prestige issue. TN government had appealed against Madras HC’s order directing CBI to take over the case. The HC had observed that since a high ranking minister himself had taken a stand TN police cannot continue the investigation.

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.

Despite the dying declaration mentioning the conversion angle, the police and government had tried to suppress the angle from the moment her video went viral in social media. Lavanya’s parents had approached the court after Thanjavur SP, ministers Anbil Mahesh and Geeta Jeevan had openly told media that there is no conversion angle in the case at the initial stages of the investigation itself. They had sought the court to transfer the case to CBI as they had no trust in TN police. The Madurai bench of Madras High Court which heard their petition observed that the DSP “wanted to completely suppress the conversion angle altogether”.

Noting how a high ranking minister, Anbil Mahesh, Minister of School Education, himself had taken a stand the court felt it could hamper the investigation and ordered a CBI inquiry. However the TN government had approached the SC appealing against the order. DGP had also challenged the remarks made by HC against TN police’s conduct. SC heard it today and directed the TN government to hand over papers of the case to CBI. It also asked the government to not make it a prestige issue.

Refusing to interfere in the HC’s decision to transfer the case to CBI, the SC bench said, “It might not be appropriate for us to interject in the investigation of CBI”. But it agreed to issue notice on the aspect of HC’s remarks against TN police for its inaction.

It is to be noted that while the police department and Education Department officials ruled out the conversion angle and tried to absolve the school of playing any part in Lavanya’s death, NCPCR Chairman who inspected the school had found that the “hostel” attached to the school was infact registered as a “Child Care Institution” aka “orphanage”. Apart from this, the DMK government has been trying to ruke out the conversion angle from the beginning and recently DMK MLA Inigo Irudaya Raj was spotted felicitating the prime accused, warden Sahaya Mary, when she came out of the jail after securing bail.

(With inputs from IANS)

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