The Supreme Court on Thursday transferred the trial of Muzaffarpur shelter home cases from Patna to Saket POCSO court in Delhi for “a free and fair trial”.
The top court also ordered the judge to commence the trial in two weeks and complete it within a period of six months.
While slamming the Bihar government for its management of shelter homes, the Supreme Court said, “Enough is enough. Get someone here who is conversed to what is happening in the state. Children cannot be treated like this. You cannot let your officers treat children this way. Spare the children.”
The court further warned that it will summon the chief secretary if the state fails to give all the information.
Meanwhile, the apex court came down heavily on the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Centre for transferring a CBI officer probing the shelter home rape case despite the court’s embargo against the transfer of investigating officials.
Seeking to know why the officer probing the case was transferred, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked, “Was the Cabinet committee which transferred him, informed of Supreme Court embargo?” adding that this amounted to the violation of court order.
In November last year, the Supreme Court had transferred 16 cases related to the sexual and mental exploitation of children in Bihar shelter homes to the CBI. The court had then asked CBI to file a status report by January 31
At the shelter home in Muzaffarpur, 34 girls – aged seven to fourteen – were allegedly drugged, raped, forced to sleep naked and scalded with boiling water. Some of the girls were also forced to undergo an abortion.
The case came to light when the Bihar Social Welfare Department filed an FIR based on a social audit of the shelter home conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai.
An FIR was subsequently registered by the Bihar social welfare department and 10 persons, including prime accused Brajesh Thakur whose NGO ran the shelter home, were arrested.
The Supreme Court had in September vacated the Patna High Court’s 23 August order banning the media from reporting on the Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case and decided to monitor the investigation.