Less than eight hours after the police arrested the principal and three teachers of La Martiniere for Boys School in Kolkata on Monday for abetting the suicide of Class 8 student Rouvanjit Rawla in February, the police diluted the charge when they produced the chargesheet in court.
Instead of abetment of suicide, which carries a maximum punishment of life imprisonment, the police charged principal Sunirmal Chakravarti and colleagues merely with assault — carrying a maximum punishment of three years in jail — and milder charges.
So, Chakravarti and his colleagues had no difficulty securing bail from the chief metropolitan magistrate before whom they were produced.
Thirteen-year-old Rouvanjit had committed suicide on February 12, four days after being caned by the principal.
"This is a mockery of justice. I have never heard of the police producing a chargesheet so promptly after arresting the accused," said Rovanjit's father Ajay Rawla from Singapore.
The police, however, defended their decision to drop the charge of abetment of suicide.
"We examined 82 witnesses but we couldn't establish a link between the principal's caning and Rouvanjit's suicide," said JCP (Crime) Damayanti Sen.
Police Commissioner Gautam Mohan Chakravarti added, "The boy was not hurt the day he killed himself. That is the main reason why the abetment of suicide charge was not held against the accused."
On the possibility of Rouvanjit committing suicide three days after being caned, psychiatrist Dr Subir Haldar Chaudhuri said, "Kids are impulsive and it is difficult to say whether he would react to a word or action immediately or later."