Kasaragod court rejects pre-arrest bail plea of headteacher who forcibly cut hair of Dalit student

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Kasaragod: The Kasaragod Sessions Court on Monday rejected the anticipatory bail application of head teacher Sherly Joseph facing arrest for forcibly cutting the hair of a 10-year-old Dalit student in school.

Chittarikkal police of Kasaragod district had charged her with unlawful restraint under Section 341 of IPC, cruelty towards child under Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, and forcibly tonsuring head which was derogatory to human dignity under Sections 3(1)(e) and 3(2)(Va) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Since she has been charged under the Prevention of Atrocities Act, Section Section 15A (5) of the same Act says that the victim or his dependent shall be entitled to be heard at any proceeding under the Act in respect of bail, discharge, release, parole, conviction, or sentence of the accused, said public prosecutor K Dinesh Kumar.

So, on November 7, the court postponed the bail hearing to hear the boy out before making a decision. "He was represented by his mother in the court," said the prosecutor.

The court then directed the District Legal Service Authority to arrange a lawyer for the boy. Both the public prosecutor and the boy's counsel opposed Sherly Joseph's bail plea.

According to the Chittarikkal police, the head teacher of Mar Gregorios Memorial UP School, Kottamala, forcibly and publicly cut the boy's hair after the assembly on October 19.

After the incident, the student of Class V refused to go to school. When the parents learned about the incident, they reported it to a community forum, which helped the boy file a police complaint.

After news media reported the incident, the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights also registered a suo motu case.

The case is being investigated by the Special Mobile Squad, a dedicated wing of Kerala police to investigate cases registered under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. According to lawyers, she can now move the high court seeking anticipatory bail.

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