New Delhi: In Muzaffarpur sexual and physical assault of several girls at a shelter home, a Delhi court on Monday (January 20) convicted 19 accused including NGO owner Brajesh Thakur and acquitted one. The court, however, will pronounce the quantum of sentence on January 28.
The shelter home was run by former Bihar People's Party (BPP) MLA Brajesh Thakur. Earlier, the court had deferred the order by a month till January 14 as Judge Saurabh Kulshrestha, was on leave.
The accused included eight females and 12 males. The court had held the trial for the offences of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, drugging of minors and criminal intimidation among other charges.
Key accused Brajesh Thakur and staff of his shelter home, as well as officials in the Bihar department of social welfare, were charged with criminal conspiracy, neglect of duty and failure to report assault on the girls.
The charges also included offence of cruelty to child under their authority, punishable under the Juvenile Justice Act.
On March 20, 2018, the court had framed charges against the accused, including Thakur, for offences of criminal conspiracy to commit rape and penetrative sexual assault against minors.
Notably, former Bihar Social Welfare Minister and then JD(U) leader Manju Verma also faced flak as allegations surfaced that Thakur was associated with her husband.
Manju Verma had to resign from her post on August 8, 2018. The CBI had told a special court that there was enough evidence against all the accused in the case. The case was registered under provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
Additional Sessions Judge Kulshreshtha, during the in-camera trial, concluded the arguments in the case which had begun on February 25 last year.
The case was transferred on February 7 from a local court in Muzaffarpur in Bihar to a POCSO court at Saket district court complex in Delhi on the Supreme Court's directions.
For the first time, the matter came to fore after the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) submitted a report to the Bihar government on May 26, 2018, highlighting the alleged sexual abuse of minor girls at the shelter home.
On May 29, 2018, the Bihar government shifted the girls from the shelter home to other protection homes, and FIR was lodged against 11 accused on May 31, 2018.