With the CBI making important headway in the Pradyuman Thakur murder case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has granted anticipatory bail to the owners of Ryan International School while observing that “in the investigation conducted so far, there is not even a pointer of involvement of petitioners in the crime in this case”.
Justice Surinder Gupta granted anticipatory bail to Ryan International CEO Ryan Augustine Pinto and his parents Augustine Francis Pinto and Grace Pinto, who had earlier been granted interim protection from arrest.
Appearing for the Pintos, senior advocates RS Cheema and Randeep Rai along with advocate Sandeep Kapur, Partner; Principal Associates Rajat Soni and Veer Sandhu; Associates from Karanjawala & Co., brought the court’s attention to the fact that on October 7, when it had granted the interim relief to the Pintos, the CBI had said it was working on the theory of possibilities and sought more time to look into the role of Pintos, but the status qua the Pintos remained the same.
“As admitted by learned counsel representing CBI, petitioners have not ever been called for joining the investigation and CBI has arrested a student of the school as main accused for murder of Pradyuman and is concentrating on his role in committing the crime. It has not come on record that this crime was committed by the conductor (Ashok), who was arrested by the police on the day of occurrence or the student arrested by the CBI in this case, in conspiracy with the petitioners or he had ever any contact with them. Petitioners Dr. Augustine Francis Pinto and Mrs. Grace Pinto are trustees of Saint Xavier's Education Trust, which is running several schools in the country.
“The status of petitioner Ryan Augustine Pinto with regard to the management of the school in which crime was committed, is yet to be ascertained. It will also be a point of investigation for the Investigating Agency as to whether the petitioners, while living in Mumbai, are directly responsible for any lapse of the Administration in the school,” the court noted.
“It is not disputed that in the investigation conducted so far, there is not even a pointer of involvement of petitioners in the crime in this case. Some lapse or negligence on the part of school management or even of the trustees or other office bearer of the school if found at any point of time, may not be a pointer towards their complicity in commission of murder of a school student, until and unless there is some substantial evidence of their involvement in this crime,” it said.
The court directed the Pintos to make themselves available for interrogation by the investigating agency as and when required and not to directly or indirectly make any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the accusation against them so as to dissuade him from disclosing such facts to the court or to investigating agency.
They have been barred from leaving the country without prior permission of the court.