Principal expelled Ruchika, but not Rathore’s daughter


Chandigarh: A magisterial inquiry into the expulsion of Ruchika Girhotra from her school here has revealed that while the school authorities singled out the teen-aged molestation victim for action in 1990, no such step was taken against the daughter of her tormentor though she too defaulted in fee payment.

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In a damning report, which was submitted by Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Prerna Puri to Chandigarh’s Home Secretary Ram Niwas Thursday, the principal of the Sacred Heart Senior Secondary School has been accused of being unfair in expelling Ruchika for fee default, while other such cases were not touched ever in the school’s history.

The SDM pointed out that Priyanjali Rathore, daughter of Ruchika’s molestor and former Haryana police chief S.P.S. Rathore, who too was studying in Ruchika’s class, had also defaulted in fee payment in the same year but no action was taken against Priyanjali.

The report has, without directly naming Rathore for Ruchika’s expulsion, clearly stated that the school authorities took action under “outside compelling influence”. It said that circumstantial evidence pointed a finger at him (Rathore).

The Chandigarh administration has also decided to withdraw the state award given in 2005 to Sacred Heart schol’s present principal S. Sebestina. She was the principal of the school in 1990 also.

The inquiry report said the school’s action in Ruchika’s case was “arbitrary, unwarranted, biased, contemptuous and selective”.

“The inquiry report has found that the school authorities are to be blamed for expelling Ruchika after the (molestation) incident,” Chandigarh’s home-cum-education secretary Ram Niwas said Thursday.

“There were 135 students of the school in the last 20 years who had not paid the fees. No other student, except Ruchika, was expelled in the last 20 years. We will forward the inquiry report to the Panchkula police, the school management and the CBSE for further action,” Ram Niwas said.

He said the inquiry report has been submitted to Chandigarh’s Administrator S.F. Rodrigues.

“It is amply evident that the school authorities indulged in the contemptuous act of expelling late Ms. Ruchika Girhotra and did not act independently or impartially but under acute pressure in invoking Rule 35 of the Pupil’s Code of Conduct since the same rule has never been applied to any of the 135 similar cases dug out by the undersigned from the official records of the school,” the probe report stated.

“The overall attending circumstances of the case are such that an irresistible conclusion may be drawn that the school authorities acted under some outside compelling influence in the arbitrary decision of singling out late Ms.Ruchika Girhotra and selectively applying the rules pertaining to non-payment of fees to her case.”

“This act of the school authorities certainly would have contributed to mortifying the self esteem, self confidence, integrity and reputation of a young minor girl (late Ms. Ruchika Girhotra) thereby traumatizing and indelibly scarring her impressionable mind.”

“With regard to the allegation in the statement of Sh.S.C. Girhotra that the school authorities expelled late Ms Ruchika Girhotra from the school at the behest of Sh. S.P.S.Rathore, although no direct evidence is available, it is quite probable in view of the strong circumstantial evidence to the effect that Ruchika’s expulsion was proximate in time and followed close on the heels of the incident of molestation. This aspect in my view requires an in-depth and thorough probe,” the report added.

SDM Puri said that a questionnaire was also sent to Rathore in this regard and he had denied any role in getting Ruchika expelled from the school.

The probe questioned several witnesses, including the school principal, teachers, staff members, class-mates, friends and father of Ruchika.

The teenaged budding tennis player was molested by former Haryana director general of police (DGP) in Panchkula, near here, Aug 12, 1990.

After 19 years, Rathore was convicted by a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court here Dec 21 and sentenced to six months’ rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1,000.

The light conviction led an uproar in different sections of society, forcing authorities to re-visit the case and seek justice for the molestation victim.