Terming as "irresponsible" the magisterial inquiry indicting the Sacred Heart Senior Secondary School and its principal for the expulsion of teenaged molestation victim Ruchika Girhotra, the school authorities plan to seek the intervention of its central body in proving it was innocent.
The inquiry accused the school's principal S Sebestina of being unfair in expelling Ruchika for fee default in September 1990, a month after she was molested by former Haryana director general of police (DGP) SPS Rathore.
"The investigation was done in a very irresponsible and irrational manner. They have maligned the image of the school but we would not sit quiet and will take the issue to the national level," Father Thomas Anchanikal, vicar-general and spokesperson for the Chandigarh-Shimla diocese, told IANS on Sunday.
He added: "The school is innocent and depending upon the circumstances we would approach our central body to intervene in the matter. We are in constant touch with the Catholic Bishops Conference and they are supporting us. One cannot mar the competence and services of the institution just on the basis of one report."
This leading all-girls school of Chandigarh, which is governed by the Chandigarh-Shimla diocese, was held guilty of expelling Ruchika on frivolous grounds. Sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Prerna Puri had submitted the inquiry report to Chandigarh Home Secretary Ram Niwas Thursday.
"Today, I have also heard that Niwas was talking about the disaffiliation of the school. We are evaluating the situation and accordingly we would plan our further move," stated Anchanikal.
"The inquiry officer had ignored all the proofs that we presented before her and she relied more upon circumstantial evidence. They did not possess even a single proof that proves the school's role in Ruchika's expulsion," he pointed out.
In the report, the SDM pointed out that Priyanjali Rathore, daughter of the former top cop, who too was studying in Ruchika's class, had also defaulted in fee payment in the same year but no action was taken against her.
The Chandigarh administration has also decided to withdraw the state award given in 2005 to principal Sebestina, who held the position in 1990 also.
"The inquiry was done in the most transparent and fair manner. School authorities were found guilty as they succumbed to outside pressure resulting in expulsion of Ruchika," Niwas, who is also the education secretary of Chandigarh, said.
Rathore was convicted by a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court in Chandigarh December 21 and sentenced to six months' rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1,000 for molesting Ruchika, a budding tennis player August 12, 1990.
The light conviction led to an uproar in different sections of society, forcing authorities to re-visit the case and seek justice for the molestation victim.
Ruchika's father SC Girhotra had said the school refused to accept the fees and expelled his daughter on the behest of Rathore.
"These allegations are totally baseless. We had never expelled Ruchika and she had herself stopped coming to school," said Anchanikal.