Police overstepped their authority in pressuring the principal of Christ Church Girls’ High School to resign last week, legal experts said on Wednesday.
Senior lawyers termed the police action “illegal” while a section of police officers said such decisions were usually the outcome of “severe political pressure”.
Barrackpore police had failed to prevent a mob from vandalising the Dum Dum school on September 12 because they were allegedly busy conveying to principal Helen Sircar the demands of a section of guardians and outsiders. Sircar was then allegedly forced to resign, as demanded by the mob in the name of protesting the death of Class V student Oindrilla Das.
“There is no law that empowers the police to force a person to resign from her post. If any such incident occurs, the victim may approach the human rights commission or file a defamation case against the police for harassment,” advocate Rabishankar Chatterjee said.
Debashis Bej, deputy commissioner of the detective department in the Barrackpore commissionerate, was spotted approaching the mob with folded hands. As demanded by the crowd, Bej allegedly convinced Sircar to come out to the terrace and apologise.
When the mob didn’t relent, the principal was allegedly asked to resign. The crowd then refused to accept her resignation on a sheet of plain paper, at which the police allegedly made her write one under her official letterhead. “I did not resign on my own. I was forced to resign by the mob and instructed (to do so) by the police,” Sircar revealed.
A police officer with over three decades in service said: “Nobody, not even the police, has the right to force anyone to write a document. It is for the same reason that a written confession by an accused in police custody is not admissible as evidence in court.”
Metro learnt from multiple sources that just as the mob had started vandalising the building, the police looked the other way because they did not have instructions to act.
When the signal to act finally came, the police allegedly chose to force the principal to resign.
Police sources said they had little choice but to proceed the way they did. A minister was in touch with Barrackpore police commissioner Vishal Garg, who allegedly passed on the instructions to his team, the sources said.