Muzaffarpur shelter home case: SC shifts trial to Delhi

Muzaffarpur shelter home case: SC shifts trial to Delhi

The Supreme Court on Thursday transferred the trial of a case related to sexual exploitation of young girls at the Muzaffarpur shelter home to a court in Delhi.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi put the infamous case for trial before a POCSO court at Saket here and put a deadline of six months for completing the trial.

The court's order came as a counsel, appearing for the CBI, submitted that the charge sheet has already been filed against 17 accused, all of whom were lodged in jail. 

Prime accused Brijesh Thakur has been shifted to the Patiala jail in Punjab on October 30, 2018 by the top court, which relied upon a CBI status report stating that he enjoyed considerable influence in Bihar.

Taking up the matter arising out of a petition filed by Patna-based journalist Nivedita Jha, the top court pulled up the CBI for transferring senior officer A K Sharma, connected to the investigation in the instant case. 

The bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, asked the CBI counsel to apprise post lunch if the Cabinet Committee on Appointment was informed of the embargo put on transfer of the officer by this court.

"Why have you transferred the officer? Tell us whether the Committee was informed about the embargo on transfer," the court asked the counsel, who sought time to seek instructions.

The court directed the CBI to carry out the investigation into 16 other shelter homes in Bihar in "right earnest". 

The Muzzafarpur shelter home case has come as a big embarrassment to the Nitish Kumar government. Tales of exploitation of young girls in the shelter home run by Brijesh Thakur came to light on a social audit report by Tata Institute of Social Sciences. The public outrage, that subsequently followed, forced the state government to order the CBI probe. Over two dozen people, including Thakur, have been arrested in the case.

On November 28, the top court had directed the CBI to take over investigation into sexual exploitation of women and children in 16 shelter homes of Bihar, apart from its ongoing probe in the Muzaffarpur case.

On Thursday, the court also pulled up the Bihar government about state of affairs in shelter homes over there. 

"We want to know who are the officers managing these shelter homes. You can't let the things as they are. We are going to ask tough questions. Enough is enough," the CJI said, asking advocate Manish Kumar, appearing for the Bihar government to come prepared at 2 pm.