Jabalpur Bishop, Priests Get Temporary Relief From Arrest

Jabalpur Bishop, Priests Get Temporary Relief From Arrest

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By Matters India Reporter

New Delhi, April 13, 2023: The Madhya Pradesh High Court on April 13 granted bail to a Catholic school principal accused of sexual abuse of student.

A day earlier, the court granted temporary relief from arrest to Bishop Gerald Almeida of Jabalpur and Father Jagan Raj in an alleged cheating case.

The high court’s principle bench in Jabalpur granted bail to Nam Singh Yadav, a layman principal of a school the Jabalpur diocese managed at Junwani, a village in Dindori district in the central Indian state.

The court also ordered for a probe into the charges against the principal after he denied the allegations against him.

Police arrested Yadav on March 7 following a complaint from district child welfare committee that conducted a surprise inspection of the school four days earlier.

A team of Madhya Pradesh’s Commission for Protection of Child Rights that inspected the school and its hostel accused the principal of sexual abuse and took away eight girls without informing their parents or even the hostel authorities at late night.

The girls and their parents denied the allegation against the principal and even demanded a fair probe into the child welfare committee’s allegation and those involved in the inspection.

In its order on Bishop Almeida and Father Raj, the court order said, “Till the next date of hearing no coercive action shall be taken against the petitioners” and posted the case for hearing on April 24.

The prelate is the chairman and the priest the treasurer of the Jabalpur Diocesan Education Society that run the Junwani school.

The duo were framed, according to some Church leaders, after the girls and their parents denied the allegation of sexual assault charge against the principal and sought probe into it.

The court also has asked the prosecution to furnish the case diary and the inquiry report against the bishop and the priest within four weeks.

Church leaders in Jabalpur, on condition of anonymity, told Matters India that the authorities registered “the fake case against the bishop and the priest saying they had taken grant from the government and collected fees from the students, which is illegal.

“The fact is that the school took fees from those students who were not eligible or not getting grant from the state government,”, they explained.

The Church people expressed the hope that the truth will come out after the police submit its inquiry report in the High Court.

Earlier, the District and Sessions Court in Dindori, a predominantly tribal district, on March 31 rejected the anticipatory bail application of Bishop Almeida and Father Raj.

They were on March 22 charged with cheating, commission of a crime under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the provision of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act that deals with abuses and neglect among other issues.

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