The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the CBI to conduct probe into the allegations of physical and sexual abuse of inmates in another 16 shelter homes in Bihar. The report, first flagged in by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), had highlighted rampant sexual and physical abuse of inmates in several shelter homes in the state. A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur, S A Nazeer and Deepak Gupta transferred the investigations from Bihar Police to CBI and dismissed the state government’s passionate request not to do so and grant them a week to rectify the problems.
The apex court said the report of TISS, which was given to the Bihar government earlier this year, had raised grave concern about 17 shelter homes in Bihar and the CBI must look into all of them. Out of these, the case of Muzaffarpur shelter home, where several girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused, is already being investigated by the CBI. The counsel appearing for Bihar said they have carried out requisite rectifications and investigating officers (IOs) probing the shelter homes cases have been directed to add stringent provisions, including section 377 (unnatural offences) of the Indian Penal Code, against the accused in some of the matters.
The bench noted in its order that it was not at all satisfied with the contents of the communication sent to IOs directing them to add offences under stringent provisions in these cases. Bihar’s counsel requested that the court should give them one week’s time and they would file a status report giving details of all the shelter home cases. Bihar’s counsel said that state was acting with “all sincerity” in these cases and court’s order transferring these matters to CBI “will eventually cast a doubt” on them.
“Kindly do not pass this order now. Give us one week. We will file a status report. You can go through the status report and then if you will still feel the need to transfer the cases to CBI, then you pass the order,” he said. The court refused to accept the contentions of the state and asked CBI to probe all these cases. It also made it clear that CBI officers probing shelter home cases in Bihar will not be transferred without its prior permission.
The CBI’s counsel also informed the bench that they would file a charge sheet by December 7 in the Muzaffarpur case. He said since CBI has been asked to investigate all these cases, the interim director have requested that the probe team should be expanded. The bench allowed the request and granted permission to the interim director to expand the probe team and also asked Bihar government to render all assistance to the agency. In the Muzaffarpur shelter home case, an FIR was lodged on May 31 against 11 people following the TISS report. The probe was later taken over by the CBI and so far, 17 people have been arrested.