The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Bihar government to submit a report about action taken on the recommendations of the CBI, which had investigated the Muzaffarpur shelter home abuse case.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India, N V Ramana, also disallowed a request for the report to be submitted in a sealed cover, and said that an affidavit would suffice.
“Why sealed cover?”, the CJI asked as advocate Manish Kumar, appearing for Bihar, said the state government had acted on the recommendations of the CBI and that he would submit the report in a sealed cover.
The counsel replied that since it is a matter concerning child abuse, the court had in the past directed that reports be submitted in sealed covers.
Justice Ramana then said he was not concerned with the names of victims, but only with the officers against whom action had been recommended, and whether action had been taken. He said that this did not have to be in sealed cover.
The case relates to the alleged sexual abuse and physical assault of female inmates of shelter homes run by NGO Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti in Bihar. The issue had come to light in 2018 following a social audit conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
The Supreme Court bench, also comprising Justice Krishna Murari, was hearing an application by Bihar-based journalist Nivedita Jha seeking directions to the Bihar government to produce the action taken report.
Appearing for the petitioner, advocate Shoeb Alam referred to a similar incident of alleged abuse reported recently from another state-run shelter home and said this was happening despite the Supreme Court’s intervention three years ago.
He said the CBI had probed cases related to 16 shelter homes, but conviction had happened in only one.
The CBI had also recommended departmental action to be taken against many district magistrates and state government officials and called for blacklisting of NGOs that were running these shelter homes, Alam said, adding that though much time had passed since the CBI recommendations, no report had yet been filed about whether any follow up action had been taken, nor is there any information publicly available about this.
Additional solicitor general Madhavi Divan, appearing for the CBI, said there were 17 cases. Chargesheets had been filed in all, and in one case, 19 accused were convicted, she said.