Muzaffarpur shelter home: Details of sex abuse incidents 'horrible, scary', says SC
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday termed as "horrible", "scary" and "terrible" the details placed before it by the CBI in the Muzaffarpur shelter home case in which several girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused.
The apex court perused the status report filed by the CBI and said that "shocking" details have emerged including that the girls being sedated.
"What is this sedation on the children? What is this going on? This is terrible," said the court, observing that allegations levelled by CBI against the prime accused Brajesh Thakur were "very serious".
A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur also directed CBI and the Bihar government to file status report to explain the delay in tracing the whereabouts of former state minister Manju Verma's husband Chandrashekhar Verma.
The top court had last month asked Bihar Police to probe the alleged recovery of large quantity of ammunition from the former minister and her husband.
Manju Verma had resigned as the Social Welfare Minister following the case. It had come to light that her husband had allegedly spoken to Thakur several times between January and June this year.
The court had last month asked the CBI to file status report of the investigation in a sealed cover.
During the hearing, the court said that Thakur was an influential person and as per CBI he was found in possession of mobile phone inside the jail.
It appeared that prima facie, it might not be appropriate to keep him in a jail in Bihar, the court said.
"Issue notice to Brajesh Thakur to show cause why his custody may not be transferred to some other state," the bench, which also comprised Justices S A Nazeer and Deepak Gupta, said and posted the matter for hearing on October 30.
The bench also said that CBI team investigating the case should not be changed.
Advocate Aparna Bhat, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, told the court that 17 persons have been arrested so far in the case and details given in the status report by CBI were "sad".
To this, the bench said, "Sad? It is very sad. It is scary".
"It is terrible. What is your state government doing?," the bench told senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, who was appearing for Bihar government.
The counsel appearing for CBI alleged that a mobile phone was recovered from Thakur, who is presently in jail under judicial custody, and he was communicating with 40 persons from inside the prison.
"He (Thakur) will have to be transferred out of Bihar and sent to other jail. This is scandalous," the bench said.
The amicus told the court that Thakur was influential and he could over-awe jail staff, and access communication devices.
CBI said that nine accused in the case were interrogated by the probe team but all of them have narrated exactly the same facts and this showed that Thakur had "tutored" them.
He said the four-storeyed premises, from where the shelter home in Muzzafarpur was being run, had walls of 50 feet height without any ventilation and the situation there was worse than a jail.
When the bench asked Bihar about this building, the state's counsel said they would take steps in this regard and issue show cause notice to the owner.
The amicus said that Thakur should be transferred to a jail outside Bihar and the trial of the case should also be shifted from Muzaffarpur to Patna.
The amicus referred to the report of National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), which is assisting CBI on the psycho-social and rehabilitation issues of the victims, and said the girls were scared to come back to Muzaffarpur.
The bench, however, said that charge sheet has to be filed before the concerned court and thereafter the issue of whether the trial would be shifted from Muzaffarpur would be considered.
Regarding the premises having walls of 50 feet height, the bench said it appeared that prima facie the building was "completely unauthorised" and asked the state to issue show cause notice to its owner.
Bihar's counsel said that a notice would be issued to the owner of the building and if it would be found that the structure do not conform to law, it would be demolished.
The bench also asked two forensic science laboratories, where CBI has sent sample collected during the probe for analysis, to expedite the process so that charge sheet could be filed as soon as possible.
The CBI informed the court that they were also conducting investigation into the aspect of how state's social welfare department had allegedly shifted some girls from the shelter home run by Thakur in March this year.
Over 30 girls were allegedly raped at the shelter home. The alleged sexual exploitation of the girls was first highlighted in an audit report submitted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to the state's social welfare department.
An FIR was lodged against 11 people, including Thakur, on May 31. The probe was later taken over by the CBI.