Millennium Post

Apex court allows eight girls to reunite with their families

Apex court allows eight girls   to reunite with their families

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed eight of the 44 girls of Muzaffarpur shelter home, where allegations of rampant sexual assault surfaced last year, to reunite with their families.

The top court directed the Bihar government to provide all necessary financial and medical assistance to these eight girls identified by 'Koshish' -- a field action project of TISS -- as fit for being sent to their families.

Several girls were sexually assaulted at the NGO-run shelter home in Bihar. The issue had come to light following a report by TISS, which had conducted a social audit.

A bench of Justices N V Ramana, M M Shantanagoudar and Ajay Rastogi asked the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to submit a status report with respect to the other 36 girls.

It also directed the state government to assess the compensation liable to be paid to the girls under the victim compensation scheme and submit a report to the court in eight weeks.

The apex court's decision came after TISS filed its field action project 'Koshish' before it in a sealed cover, saying the eight girls were fit to be handed over to their families.

Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for TISS, said these 44 girls have been staying in four different shelter homes after the incidents of sexual assault in Muzaffarpur shelter home came to the fore.

In case of some girls, their extended families are willing to take them back while some of the girls are children with special needs, she said.

One of the girls is unable to give the address of her family but she has given details of the locality where her family resides, she said.

Grover told the bench that 'Koshish' has contacted the family members of the girls and eight of them were found to be suitable to be sent to their families.

The court was dealing with an application filed by the Bihar government seeking permission to complete the process of rehabilitation and restoring the 44 girls to their families.

The apex court had in July this year allowed 'Koshish' to interact with these children and their respective families to find out the acceptability of these children by their families and the repercussions thereupon.

The counsel appearing for Bihar had earlier told the top court that children of Muzaffarpur shelter home have been kept in different child care institutions and some of them have started showing aggressive behaviour and also indulged in inflicting self harm.

The apex court had in June granted three months to the CBI to complete the probe in the case, including suspected murders, and had directed it to widen the scope to investigate the "outsiders" involved in the crime.

It had also directed the CBI to probe the allegations of unnatural sexual assault under section 377 of the Indian Penal Code in the Muzaffarpur case.

Besides, it had asked the CBI to probe the offences under the Information Technology Act regarding the video recordings of the alleged assault on girls at the shelter home.

Trial against 21 accused, chargesheeted by the CBI for alleged sexual and physical assault on the inmates, is going on in a trial court of Delhi.

The apex court had in February transferred the case from Bihar to a Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) court in Saket District Court complex in Delhi.

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