The Bombay High Court has granted pre-arrest bail to the headmistress of a school in Kurla after an FIR was filed against her for allegedly making a caste remark to a female teacher who was arrested for her alleged unsatisfactory performance .
Judge Milind Jadhav on Friday allowed the plea of Lekha Visaria, Director of Swami Vivekanand Vidyalaya, Kurla, seeking redress in the case filed against her by Nehru Nagar Police in February this year under various sections of the Scheduled Caste/Tribe listed (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 for insulting or intimidating a member of the SC/ST in any place in public view.
The HC ordered that if arrested, Visaria be released on personal bail of Rs 25,000.
According to the FIR, there were several errors in the grade sheets and student assessment of class X in 2021. Visaria had asked teachers for explanations for the same. As the complaining teacher gave no explanation, Visaria demanded an apology.
On October 5, 2021, Visaria called the teacher in and asked her why she hadn’t submitted a letter of apology. She told him that the English was not good and “as she was from a lower caste, so she is fit to teach a lower class”. Two other teachers later witnessed the principal’s tirade, FIR alleges.
The teacher further said that the administrators asked her to teach classes 5 and 6 instead of classes 9 and 10, citing her unsatisfactory job in teaching English.
She then filed a complaint in December, then an FIR on February 9 of this year.
Rishi Bhuta, Visaria’s lawyer, argued that the FIR was filed due to blood feud.
The HC noted that the FIR did not contain any specific caste remarks. The court said “prima facie there is no reference to the caste of the informant by the appellant whom she alleged to be insulting”, nor any other incident. Moreover, the FIR does not mention what was said in front of his two eyewitnesses.
Additionally, the complainant did not attend school from October 4 to 9 and there were discrepancies in her signatures on the appeal. The court added that this aspect should be studied.
Citing management’s letter, the court said the plaintiff’s performance could not be lost sight of. “It was only after this that the complainant reacted and filed a complaint with the police. If the complainant had been truly injured on October 5, 2021, she would have immediately filed a complaint as any prudent person is supposed to do, if she had been right in her complaint,” Judge Jadhav helps.
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