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Upset over Bihar govt’s ‘inefficiency’, SC entrusts all 17 shelter home probes to CBI

The apex court on Tuesday slammed the state government over its failure to file a correct FIR and gave a deadline of 24 hours to add charges under Section 377 (rape) of the IPC and the POCSO Act in the FIR.

SNS | New Delhi |

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the transfer of probe into all the 17 cases of sexual abuse and exploitation of children at shelter homes in Bihar to Central Bureau of Investigation.

Upset with the manner of handling the cases, the Supreme Court handed over the investigation to the CBI saying, “If the state government had done its job properly, the cases may not have gone to the CBI.”

A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Deepak Gupta directed the Bihar government to provide all the manpower, resources and logistical support to the Central Bureau of Investigation even as counsel for the state government made a last ditch bid to keep the investigation with the Bihar Police.

Permitting the CBI to expand its existing team of investigators that was already probed the Muzaffarpur horror, the court said that none of the member of the investigating team would be withdrawn without the permission of the court.

Earlier on Tuesday, the apex court rapped the government over its “inefficiency” in handling the Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case.

The apex court slammed the state government over its failure to file a correct FIR and gave a deadline of 24 hours to add charges under Section 377 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code and the POCSO Act in the FIR.

The sodomy cases had been filed under the POCSO Act, and not under Section 377 of the IPC, which the top court said was not the right way to handle them.

“Child is sodomised, you say FIR will be lodged on Monday. Are we doing any favour to these children? Are they not citizens of this country,” the court fumed.

Read | Bihar shelter home rapes | ‘Are children not citizens; file correct FIR in 24 hrs’: SC raps Bihar govt

The SC further warned of action against the government if it is found that there were offences under Section 377 of the IPC and POCSO Act that were not registered in the FIR.

The Supreme Court had also asked the counsel appearing for the CBI lawyer to take instruction if the central probe agency can investigate the cases relating to sexual assault in nine out of 17 shelter homes in Bihar named in the TISS report.

The court has, over the period of time, pulled up the Bihar government and the police on several occasions over the delay in the arrest of the accused in the case.

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.