A court in Bihar’s Chhapra on Monday sentenced a former primary school principal to a total of 17 years imprisonment in a case of culpable homicide for the deaths of 23 children because of a poisonous midday meal, The Indian Express reported. Mina Devi was sentenced by an additional district judge in the 2013 case after being found guilty earlier this month.
An additional district court judge sentenced Devi to 10 years in prison for culpable homicide, and seven years for criminal negligence. She was also asked to pay a total fine of Rs 3.75 lakh. Public prosecutor Surendra Singh said that the court treated the case " as [a] rarest of rare case" and awarded the punishments as consecutive, and not concurrent ones. However, she was acquitted of murder and criminal conspiracy charges, though the Special Investigation Team in the matter said there was a strong case against her.
Devi’s husband Arjun Yadav was acquitted of all charges against him. The former principal later said she would challenge the verdict in the Patna High Court.
Around 80 children had eaten the toxic soya bean curry and rice meal the day the incident took place in 2013. Attendance had been recorded at a higher than normal level because of book distributions at school that say. Following the deaths, the school was shifted to a new location, but students refused to eat their meals there for several months. It was later reopened at its original location last year.