The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed a Patna High Court order allowing the CBI Special Director to constitute a fresh Special Investigation Team (SIT) for the Muzaffarpur shelter home sex abuse case. It directed that the probe be continued by the earlier team formed by the CBI Director.
Observing that changing the team at this stage would prove “detrimental”, a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said, “There is no allegation made against the team… We don’t see any reason why the existing CBI team, probing the Muzaffarpur shelter home case, should be changed at this stage. We don’t see any reason why a new team should be constituted by a special director of the CBI. We stay the order of August 29 of the Patna High Court… investigation should be continued by team constituted by the director of the CBI.”
After perusing status reports of the probe on August 29, the Patna High Court monitoring the investigation had ordered the process to be expedited, and asked the CBI Special Director CBI to monitor and supervise it.
Appearing for the agency, Attorney General K K Venugopal on Tuesday brought the Patna High Court’s order to the attention of the apex court, pointing out that the existing team was formed by the CBI Director on July 30.
The bench led by Justice Lokur also directed the CBI to produce the two status reports that were earlier filed before the High Court.
The bench is considering a PIL on the alleged abuse of girls at the shelter home in Bihar. On August 2, the court had taken suo motu cognizance of the incident after it received a letter from a Patna resident highlighting the developments in the shelter home. The bench had also issued notice to the Bihar government and the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development.
The shocking incident had come to light following an audit of the shelter home by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai. The audit report, submitted to the state government in April, said that many girls at the shelter home had complained of sexual abuse.
Following this, an SIT was formed to probe the complaints. Amid uproar, the Nitish Kumar government handed over the investigation to CBI.
Brajesh Thakur, owner of the NGO ‘Seva Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti’ which ran the shelter home, was arrested after the incident came to light. He also ran a local newspaper.
Expressing concern over the leak of probe details in the shelter home case, the Patna High Court had on August 23 restrained the media from reporting the details of the probe. A petition challenging this is pending before the Supreme Court.
The apex court will now hear the matter on September 20.
SC expresses concern over victim’s identity
The Supreme Court bench hearing the Bihar shelter home abuse case Tuesday expressed its anguish over media reports indicating the identity of the Rewari rape victim. “There is something wrong. I saw on a news channel a girl was raped in Rewari. They say she was a topper in CBSE. There is only one topper, identifying her is not a problem at all. Probably if you Google her you would find (her)… Rewari is not a big city like Delhi, Kolkata… I happen to see that by chance on TV channel.”
“They interviewed the victim’s father on camera from behind his head, but in front of him there are 50 people from the village. They know him. They will tell 50 more persons and everybody would know. Now, what’s to be done,” the court asked.