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SC allows CBI to probe death of 17-year-old girl in Thanjavur

SC allows CBI to probe death of 17-year-old girl in Thanjavur
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the CBI to proceed with the probe into the suicide of a 17-year-old girl in Thanjavur who was allegedly coerced to convert to Christianity.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M Trivedi issued notice on the appeal filed by the Tamil Nadu DGP challenging the Madras High Court order.

The top court said that there are two aspects in the matter -- one, 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 CBI investigation but it would 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.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi appeared for Tamil Nadu.

The high court on January 31 transferred the probe to the CBI.

"This Court has a duty to render posthumous justice to the child. The foregoing circumstances cumulatively taken will definitely create an impression that the investigation is not proceeding on the right lines.

"Since a high ranking Hon'ble Minister himself has taken a stand, investigation cannot continue with the State Police. I therefore direct the Director, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), New Delhi, to assign an officer to take over investigation from the State Police," the high court had ruled.

CBI will undertake an independent investigation and shall not take into account any of the observations made in this order, the judge had added.

The 17-year-old student of the missionary school in Thanjavur belonged to Ariyalur district and committed suicide a few days ago.

A hostel inmate, she was allegedly coerced to convert to Christianity. A video clip in this connection had gone viral. The school management rejected the allegation and blamed vested interests.

The victim's father demanded a CB-CID investigation "but in the final hearing, the original prayer was given up and the request was for transfer of investigation to CBI," the court said.

In the police statement as well as in the statement before the judicial magistrate, the girl had directly and in unambiguous terms accused the hostel warden of burdening her by assigning her non-academic chores and unable to bear the same, she consumed pesticide.

The hostel warden Sister Saghayamary was arrested and remanded to judicial custody on the basis of the statement.

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