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SC allows appeal against HC order directing action against former principal over minor girl’s abuse by school bus conductor

The Division Bench comprising Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice C.T. Ravikumar was considering whether the High Court in the exercise of powers under Section 482 proceeds to issue directions and make observations against a person, not a party before the Court without giving any opportunity of being heard.

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The Supreme Court on Saturday allowed an appeal preferred by a former principal of a school challenging the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s order wherein the court issued directions to proceed against her in addition to making certain observations against her in respect of an incident of abuse of a minor school girl by a conductor of the school bus.

The Division Bench comprising Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice C.T. Ravikumar was considering whether the High Court in the exercise of powers under Section 482 proceeds to issue directions and make observations against a person, not a party before the Court without giving any opportunity of being heard.

The Bench noted:

“In our opinion, the answer is an emphatic no. The High Court should not have ventured into an area which would adversely affect the third party to the proceedings and more so without referring to any credible material which warrants such intervention of the High Court.”

The Bench observed that the order passed by the High Court issuing directions to proceed against the appellant in connection with the alleged crime and making disparaging observations cannot be countenanced; and directed the Trial Court to proceed with the matter pending before it in accordance with the law.

At the outset, in May 2015, an FIR was registered against the bus conductor upon the complaint filed by the father of the minor girl alleging that the girl, who used to be ferried by the school bus, was sexually assaulted by the conductor.

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During the course of events, the Chandigarh Commission for Protection of Child Rights sent a recommendation to the Chandigarh Police Headquarters directing registration of another FIR against the School Administrator and the owner of the bus. Accordingly, the School Administrator and the bus owner were summoned to face trial in the above-stated case.

Subsequently, the School Administrator filed a petition before the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking quashing of the FIR and the summoning order. The Bench headed by Justice Fateh Deep Singh, while dismissing the petition, also made certain critical observations against the Principal of the school where the girl was studying, for not taking appropriate action against the accused conductor despite the incident being reported to her by the father of the girl.
In addition, the High Court directed the Trial Court to not let the Principal off the hook and to take appropriate action against her in accordance with law.

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