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Muzaffarpur shelter home case: SC raps Bihar govt over 'soft' FIR, gives 24 hours to rectify mistake

The top court has warned the Bihar govt of transferring all shelter home sex abuse cases to CBI.

Muzaffarpur shelter home case: SC raps Bihar govt over 'soft' FIR, gives 24 hours to rectify mistake

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday slammed the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar over its failure to file correct FIR in connection with the alleged Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual abuse cases. 

While warning the state government of strict action, the top court also gave it a 24-hour ultimatum to additional charges under Section 377 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code and the POCSO Act in the FIR filed in connection with the cases.

“What are you (Bihar govt) doing? It’s shameful. If the child is sodomised you say it’s nothing? How can you do this? It’s inhuman. We were told that matter will be looked with great seriousness, this is seriousness? Every time I read this file it’s tragic,” the top court bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi said.

The top court made these observations while responding to a batch of petitions filed in the case, which alleged that the Bihar government has been very "soft" on the accused. 

The staff members of the shelter homes were involved in serious sexual abuse, physical violence but the FIRs were registered against them only under the 'soft' sections, they alleged. 

The top court then said that it will take up the case again on Wednesday.

While hearing the petitions filed in the case, the Supreme Court slammed the Nitish government for not taking concrete action in the Muzaffarpur shelter home sex scandal case since getting a detailed report in this regard in May.

The top court also expressed its inclination to transfer probe into all Bihar shelter home sexual abuse cases to the CBI. 

The top court said that it was ''not satisfied'' with the probe conducted by the Bihar Police and sought a reply from the state's Chief Secretary, who was also present in the court, by Wednesday.

Coming down heavily on Bihar Police, the top court said, ''The state's police has filed corporal punishment charge in case of sodomy. It is "shameful" for the Bihar government that it is going soft against the perpetrators of crime against shelter homes children. Are children not the citizen of the country?"

Citing the TISS report, the top court said, ''A boy showed TISS a 3 inch-long scar in his cheek, impaired speech, why haven't you registered an FIR under 323, 325? A child says I don't want to cook, they slashed his cheek.''

''A girl committed suicide after the alleged severe physical assault. And the FIR has no mention of unnatural death. Why is there no investigation for why she committed suicide? One girl had the phone number of her parents and wanted to call them but the shelter home managers said no. She lost her mental balance. And there is no investigation? Why wasn't she allowed to contact parents?'' the top court questioned the Bihar government.

Bihar government also reportedly admitted its mistake before the Supreme Court for not taking proper action against shelter homes and assured it that the mistake will be rectified.

The Nitish government also sought one last opportunity to correct the mistake.

To which, the top court said that the action of Bihar government is ''unacceptable'' as some of the children in shelter homes were sodomised but Section 377 of the IPC was not invoked.

Reacting to the strong observations made by the top court, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said, ''It took two months to file an FIR in the case and, even then, the name of the main accused wasn’t included. All the names coming up in the case are of those close to Nitish Kumar. The CM is trying his best to brush the case under the carpet.'' 

Over 30 girls were allegedly raped at the shelter home run by key accused Brajesh Thakur, the head of a state-funded NGO. 

The alleged sexual exploitation of the girls was first highlighted in an audit report submitted by 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 in July. 

The sexual abuse of 34 of the 42 inmates was confirmed in their medical examination.