Odisha Sun Times Bureau
New Delhi, Mar 19:
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a conditional summon to Odisha School and Mass Education (S&ME) Secretary Ranjana Chopra asking her to submit requisite reports on 2013 Ganjam school rape allegation by March 28, failing which she will have to appear in person before the commission on March 31.
Earlier on November 21, 2013, acting on a complaint filed by rights campaigner Subash Mohapatra, the commission had sought a report from the secretary on sexual crime committed on a Class –X girl student, who was subjected to rape in a government run school by her headmaster in Ganjam.
The secretary, however, had not responded to it even though NHRC had issued warning for coercive process.
“No report has since been received from the Secretary, Deptt. of School and Mass Education, Govt. of Odisha, Bhubaneswar, in response to the Commission’s communication dated 21.11.2013, followed by reminders dated 10.03.2014, 30.09.2014 and 25.06.2014, with a warning of coercive process. Hence, let conditional summons be issued to the Secretary, Deptt. of School and Mass Education, Govt. of Odisha, Bhubaneswar, to appear before the Commission in person on 31.3.2016 at 11.00 A.M. with the requisite report,” the rights panned directed.
The apex rights panel, however, provided Chopra an opportunity of dispense from appearance in person if the requisite reports were received on or before March 28.
Notably, the incident occurred on September 26, 2013, wherein a student of a government run high school in Ganjam was sexually assaulted by her acting Headmaster Kameswar Mohanty. The headmaster had also threatened the girl of dire consequences when she attempted to oppose him.
“The tragedy is – the perpetrator headmaster Kameswar Mohanty enjoys impunity and engaged in white washing the evidence,” activist Mohaptra had alleged in his petition.
It may also be mentioned here that in another instance of sexual abuse wherein a Class-VII girl student of Dhobakuchida Sevashram — a government run residential school for SC and ST students– was molested, the apex rights panel reminded and warned the secretary for non-compliance over sexual crime.
“No response has been received from the Principal Secretary, Education. Issue reminder to him to submit the required report within four weeks positively, failing which the Commission may consider issuance of coercive process u/s 13 of the PHR Act, 1993,” the rights panel directed.
The Principal Secretary of S&ME Department was required to answer the apex rights panel on queries such as security measures in place, plans for strengthening the security and action taken against the in-charge of the hostel and the superintendent.