Centre gets two weeks to mull CBI probe into Rohtak shelter home

The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday gave a week’s time to the Centre to take a decision on Haryana government’s recommendation for a CBI probe into the Rohtak shelter home incident.

If the union home ministry fails to take a decision on the issue, the bench may direct a Central Bureau of Investigation probe, the high court said. It pulled up the Special Investigation Team (SIT) for slow progress.

The court’s direction came during the resumed hearing on a PIL filed by local advocate Utsav Bains. A month ago, the state government had recommended a CBI probe into allegations of sexual abuse and torture of inmates of Apna Ghar shelter home in Rohtak, which was run by an NGO.

Even police personnel were allegedly involved in the crime.

A four-advocate committee appointed by the HC apprehended that if the CBI does not take over the case, evidence may be destroyed. The committee submitted that the head of the now-sealed Apna Ghar, Jaswanti Devi, was an influential person with links to political leaders and police officials.

Recommending forensic examination of cameras, cellphones and laptops of Devi and other accused persons, the committee maintained that Devi’s high connections could be gauged from the video recording of her daughter’s marriage in January.

They also rued that the SIT formed to look into the matter had failed to obtain the CD or marriage photographs. The SIT maintained that it had got only two or three photographs of the marriage. It told the court that two laptops and a cellphone belonging to Devi have been sent for forensic investigation.

The SIT, which submitted a report in a sealed cover, also told the court that Devi’s call details were being probed.

The court also directed the Haryana women and child development department to start rehabilitation plans for the former inmates of Apna Ghar, who have been sent to different shelter homes in the state. It asked the department’s secretary to inform the court about the steps taken.

Utsav Bains submitted before the court that little effort had been taken to suitably rehabilitate the inmates. The next hearing in the case is on July 19.

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