On Monday, GD Goenka School in Rajnagar Extension forcefully confined two children to reportedly extract fees from their parent. However, the police investigation into the case has raised several questions.
The investigation officer in the case, sub-inspector Sarvesh Kumar, had reportedly asked Nidhi Dutta, the mother, to come to a settlement with the school. Now, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has taken suo motu cognizance of the case under Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act, 2015 — and has asked of the SSP Ghaziabad to file its report within 7 days.
However, circle officer of Sihani Police station, Atish Kumar Singh, who has been given charge to investigate the case, has his own version of the events.
“According to school guidelines, the kids who enter school very late are not allowed to attend classes. Here too, the same rule was followed. The school told me that the kids were seated in the office area under the guidance of a teacher. The testimonies of school staff do not suggest illegal confinement,” said Singh.
He further said the school had also informed their parent to take them home after the school was over, but the mother came quite late, and blamed the school for wrongful confinement of the children.
“We can also see irresponsibility on the part of the guardian — even after being informed by the school, the mother came way past the time the school got over. So we aren’t fully convinced of the allegation levelled by the mother,” he emphasized.
Singh even made attempts to play down the seriousness of the allegations.
“Many schools do not allow their kids to enter premises if they reach past the starting time of the school. At least, in this case, it allowed the kids to enter even at 8.30 am. However, I also believe the school should have allowed them to attend classes. The action was a little extreme,” he reasoned.
The statements made by the CO point to a bias towards the school.
Singh ignored the fact that a cab drops and picks children from the school daily. When City Spidey probed whether the police cross-checked if the kids had indeed arrived late with the cab driver, Singh denied doing so.
Additionally, Nidhi mentioned it in her complaint that she is a working woman and calling her to pick up children in the middle of work is not reasonable.
The cab driver, Rajeev Sharma, told City Spidey that the cab reached the school at 7am, but the two children were stopped from getting off by the school staff. “I dropped the children again at 7.30 am in the second trip, but this time they were late, as the school starts at 7.20 am.”
Here again, there are discrepancies. While the school says the children arrived at 8.30 am, the driver's version mentions a different time.
Sachin Soni, secretary of All School’s Parents Association (ASPA), counters Singh’s argument: “Apart from Nidhi’s kids, the cab drops other children to the school as well. If the whole thing is about late entry, why were others allowed in class and only Nidhi’s kids singled out?”
Again, when City Spidey asked whether the claims of keeping the children seated in the office under the supervision of a teacher were verified through CCTV evidence, Singh declined. The complaint mentions that the kids were not seated under the supervision of any teacher, but a maid.
Strangely enough, the CO admitted to not having recorded the testimonies of the real victims, the children who were kept confined.
And stranger yet, when asked whether the investigation is being done under Section 75 of the JJ Act as mentioned in the letter to the SSP, the CO said he is doing a general investigation, and has not been directed to inquire under any specific act.
Singh also said judging from prima facie evidence and testimonies of the school and the mother, the school could be charged under Section 342 of the IPC, which deals with “punishment for wrongful confinement”, a bailable offence.
Opining on the clear deviation from the NCPCR directive, Shivani Jain, President of ASPA, retaliated, “This is an attempt to tone down the investigation. Why is the case not being investigated under Section 75 of the JJ Act (punishment for cruelty to child), which is a non-bailable offence. What’s happening really!”
Surprisingly, when City Spidey reached out to SSP Vaibhav Krishna for his comments, he said, "I haven't seen the letter yet. I'll gone through it soon."
TAGS: NCPCR / ASPA / All School’s Parents Association / Sihani Police station / GD Goenka School / Rajnagar Extension / National Commission for Protection of Child Rights / Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act / 2015 / Wrongful confinement