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On Thursday, February 7, former interim CBI director M Nageswara Rao was asked by the Supreme Court to appear before it on February 12. Moreover, the apex court slammed the CBI because it transferred its former joint director A K Sharma, who was involved in probing the Bihar shelter home cases.
Taking serious note of two earlier orders of the Supreme Court being violated, contempt notice was issued to Rao by a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi for transferring Sharma to the CPRF without the court’s prior permission. CBI Director Rishi Kumar Shukla was directed by the bench, which also included Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, to name the officers who were involved in the transfer of Sharma. Contempt proceedings will be initiated by the court against all CBI officials who were part of the process that transferred Sharma out of the probe agency.
Further, the court referred to orders it had made earlier, directing CBI not to transfer Sharma, reported The Times Of India. “We are going to take it very very seriously. You played with our order. God help you,” Supreme Court said after CBI counsel informed it about what had happened.
“We want to know how many shelter homes are there in Bihar? How many inmates live there? How much funding has been received? What is the condition of the inmates,” said the Chief Justice, as reported by NDTV.
Bashu Ram, who is in charge of Director Prosecution in CBI, has also been directed by the court to appear before it. Coming down heavily on Bihar government earlier today, the court asked the case to be sent to Delhi for “a free and fair trial”. Further, as per the court’s order, the trial has to shifted to Saket district court in New Delhi from Bihar, and it has to be completed by the judge within six months. The Supreme Court said that for free and fair trial in the case, the transfer of trial is required.
The State government was warned by the Supreme Court that if it fails to provide all information related to the Muzaffarpur shelter home case, the chief secretary will be summoned.
The case of sexual exploitation of young girls had come to light in April last year after Pune’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) audit team in the Muzaffarpur shelter home had submitted a report to Bihar’s Social Welfare department. The report claimed that there were issues of sexual assault on the minor girls. After the report was forwarded to the Director of Bihar’s Social Welfare department, an investigation was initiated in the case.
CBI had filed a 73-page chargesheet in a special court in Patna. The chargesheet revealed that minor girls were forced to dance to “Bhojpuri songs” wearing revealing clothes. The CBI also said that girls were drugged, made to lie on the ground and then were raped by Thakur’s guest.
The shelter home that was run by non-governmental organisation Seva Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti, was home to 42 girls, most of them were minors. According to the agency, Thakur along with his close aids allegedly use to assault the girls who refused to obey Thakur’s order to have sexual intercourse with guests.
An FIR was filed against the local journalist Brajesh Thakur, the owner of the NGO for the destitute girls. The NGO, ‘Seva Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti’ was funded by the government. Including the main accused, Brajesh, 11 others were also arrested in the case under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) court in Muzaffarpur. After the medical examination of the 42 girls living in the NGO, 34 were confirmed to be sexually exploited. At least 14 officials were suspended in the case who were involved in the case.
On September 20, 2018, the Supreme Court said that there cannot be a blanket ban on media reporting in the shelter home probe. A bench of Justices vacated the August 23 order of the Patna High Court, which had earlier imposed a ban on the media reporting in the case.
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