The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up the Bihar government for its approach towards investigation and failure to file a correct First Information Report (FIR) in the alleged rape of girls at the Muzaffarpur shelter home.
Since serious offences were not mentioned in the FIR, the court has given a period of 24 hours to the Bihar Police to rectify the FIR and add charges under Section 377 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and sections under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) in it.
During the hearing, a top court bench of Justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta called it ‘tragic’. Justice Deepak Gupta said, “Every time I read this file (relating to the case), I find it tragic.”
A petitioner in the case informed the court that the Bihar government has been ‘soft’ on the accused. “A staff member is involved in sexual abuse and physical violence of girls. It was an offence under Section 377 of the IPC and the POCSO Act and they (police) has registered a case under minor charges,” the petitioner added.
Observing that the Bihar Police is not doing its job as expected, the apex court said, “If we find that there were offences under Section 377 of the IPC and the POCSO Act and you did not register FIR, we will pass an order against the government.”
“We were told that matter will be looked with great seriousness, this is seriousness? This is the attitude of Bihar. An FIR has to be lodged. If you don’t lodge an FIR in this serious case, how will you investigate it? That’s the attitude of the state. What are you (Bihar government) doing? It is really shameful. If the child is sodomised you say it’s nothing? How can you do this? It’s inhuman,” said the Supreme Court.
The court asked Special Public Prosecutor of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), who was present in the court, to take instructions from the agency and inform it by Wednesday if the CBI can investigate the cases relating to sexual assault in nine out of 17 shelter homes in Bihar named in the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) report.
Favouring the CBI probe in the case, the court said, “There seems to be much more than what is in the surface. Bihar police can’t arrest people and file FIR.”
The affidavit filed by the TISS and report filed by the Chief Secretary of Bihar in shelter home depicts horrifying details of sexual abuse in shelter homes in Bihar, the court observed.
The counsel appearing for the CBI told the Supreme Court that these are offences against mankind. Children are being trained as ‘child soldiers’ to finish off the other children if they don’t listen to the staff of the shelter homes staff.
Reacting on the matter, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav claimed that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was trying his best to ‘brush the case under the carpet.’ “It took two months to file FIR in the case and even the name of the main accused wasn’t included. All the names coming up in the case are of those close to Nitish Kumar,” he told ANI.
More than 40 minor girls were allegedly sexually assaulted over a period of time in the shelter home which was run by Thakur’s state-funded non-governmental organisation (NGO).
Subsequently, the NGO was blacklisted and the girls were shifted to other shelter homes in Patna and Madhubani.
The case came to the fore following an audit report filed by the TISS.
(With ANI inputs)