The Bombay High Court today rejected the anticipatory bail pleas of three trustees of Ryan International Group in connection with the murder of a boy in its Gurgaon school, but granted them interim protection from arrest till tomorrow evening.
Justice Ajey Gadkari also directed the applicants -- group's CEO Ryan Pinto and his parents Augustine Pinto, founding chairman, and Grace Pinto, the group's managing director -- to submit their passports to the Mumbai police commissioner by tonight or the interim protection will be withdrawn.
The court granted interim protection till tomorrow so that the Pintos could approach "higher court", said their lawyer. The Pintos, who are based in Mumbai, approached the high court here as they apprehended arrest in the case after the school was accused of negligence.
The lawyers of Barun Thakur, the father of seven-year-old Pradhuman who was murdered in a toilet of a school run by the Ryan group in Gurgaon, Haryana, and the Maharashtra government today vehemently opposed Pintos' applications.
Thakur's lawyer voiced apprehension that the Pintos might try to flee or even tamper with evidence.
"The applications filed by the three stand rejected. The interim relief granted to them earlier shall continue till tomorrow 5 pm. The applicants have to submit their passports to the commissioner by 9 pm today. If they fail to do so then the interim protection shall stand vacated," the court said.
They sought protection from arrest till they could approach the appropriate court in Haryana.
"Transit bail should not be granted in such cases where the offence is of serious nature," additional public prosecutor Aruna Kamat Pai said.
She also cited a judgement of a full bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court which says that anticipatory bail pleas should be considered only by the courts which have "territorial jurisdiction".
Thakur's lawyer Sushil Tekriwal expressed apprehension that if granted bail, the Pintos may flee. Thakur had filed an intervening application opposing the Pintos' pleas.
"The applicants are influential people in the (Ryan) group.... There are already allegations that the crime scene has been wiped clean. If they are granted bail they would tamper with evidence or try to influence witnesses," he said.
"Let them approach the high court of Punjab and Haryana and seek anticipatory bail," Tekriwal said.
Pintos' counsel Niteen Pradhan said his clients have full sympathy for the victim's family, and were ready to cooperate fully with the police.
"No doubt the incident of murder is disturbing. The applicants are only seeking protection from arrest so that they can approach the court concerned where (under whose jurisdiction) the offence is registered. The applicants are ready to cooperate with the probe," Pradhan said.
The Haryana Police, which visited the group's office in Kandivali in Mumbai two days ago, gave the Pintos a five-page questionnaire and demanded "all kinds of documents", Pradhan said. "It will take them some time to find the documents and submit them," he added.
Justice Gadkari said he would pass a detailed order giving reasons for rejecting the pre-arrest bail pleas later.
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