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Above: Ashok Kumar, the school bus conductor arrested in the Ryan International School murder case

A Gurugram court on Tuesday (November 21) granted bail to Ashok Kumar, the school bus conductor arrested in the Ryan International School murder case of Pradhyumn Thakur as per TV news reports. He was released later in the day.

The CBI, which two weeks ago, arrested a Class XI student in the case, did not oppose Kumar’s bail plea.

“The bail was granted under Article 21 of the constitution. There were a lot of differences between findings of CBI and Gurugram Police. We were given the benefit of doubt,” Kumar’s counsel Anil Sharma said. Kumar’s parents earlier announced that they will file a case against the Gurugram police officers involved in the case.

On September 8, seven-year-old Pradhyumn, a Class II student at the school on Sohna Road, Bhondsi, was found with his throat slit in the school toilet. Gurugram police initially arrested Kumar, and accused him of killing Pradhyumn after a failed bid to sodomise him. However, Kumar, who had initially confessed to the police, later retracted his statement, saying it was extracted from him under duress, after torture. The investigation was subsequently taken over by the CBI.

However, the Class XI student, who is the son of a Haryana Bar Association member and had confessed to the CBI that he had committed the murder to have the school postpone an exam that he did not want to take as he was academically weak and poorly-prepared, has also retracted his statement before the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB). The 16-year-old has been sent to a place of safety until November 22, Wednesday. Pradhyumn’s father, Varun Thakur, has appealed before the JJB that he be tried as an adult.

The CBI has, meanwhile, summoned Gurugram SIT members to question them about alleged evidence tampering and cover-ups in the case. In connection with the bail plea of Ryan International School’s owners, Grace, Augustine and Ryan Pinto, it has filed its status report before the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a sealed envelope. The Pintos had been granted interim bail.

However, in October, the Supreme Court issued notices to the owners on a petition by Varun Thakur seeking cancellation of the anticipatory bail and had also sought the response of the CBI.

—India Legal Bureau

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