SC calls shelter home rapes 'horrific'

SC calls shelter home rapes 'horrific'

The Supreme Court. PTI file photo

The Supreme Court on Tuesday called sexual exploitation and rape of girls at a shelter home in Bihar's Muzaffarpur “horrific”, and sought to know the steps being taken to check it, since “women were getting raped left, right and centre” across the country.

Referring to the National Crime Records Bureau data on four such incidents being reported per day, a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur, Deepak Gupta and K M Joseph asked the Ministry of Women and Child Development to apprise it about the proposed steps to prevent sexual abuse of minors in shelter homes.

The court directed that minor victims of such crimes should not be interviewed, except by the State child rights bodies, saying it would have a serious impact on their welfare and mental wellbeing. It also asked the print, electronic and social media not to publish or display photos of victims of sexual abuse, even in a blurred or morphed form.

Examining suo motu the sexual abuse of girls in the NGO-run shelter home at Muzaffarpur, the court pulled up the Bihar government for funding such institution without verifying their credentials.

People's money

“All this means is that people are paying taxes and people's money is being used for such activities. Can you imagine this," the bench asked senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, representing the state government.

“Why the state allowed it to happen? It seems that money was given by the state to finance such activities,” the bench further asked the council, who submitted that actions have been taken with the registration of FIR and arrest of the accused.

The bench also referred to reports of alleged sexual exploitation of girls at a shelter home in Deoria in Uttar Pradesh and girls being sold openly in Madhya Pradesh. The court said as per the NCRB statistics, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh topped in rapes.

"This is a matter of great concern. Somebody has to take action to stop such crimes. Every six hours, a woman is raped in India," the bench said and posted the matter for hearing on August 14.

Advocate Vrinda Grover, representing Tata Institute of Social Sciences, which conducted an audit of shelter homes, said the Muzaffarpur incident was not a lone case in Bihar as there were 110 such NGO-run institutions in the state. "Grave concerns" have been raised about 15 such institutions funded by the government, she said.

No politics, please

The court wanted "proper monitoring" of NGO run shelter homes on a day-to-day basis and CCTV cameras to be installed to prevent a repeat of Muzaffarpur like incident.

The court also asked the state government to take appropriate steps as advocate Aparna Bhat, appearing as an amicus curiae, said the wife of one of the accused in the case has disclosed the names of some of the alleged victims on her Facebook post.

The bench pulled up the Delhi Commission for Women for interfering in the case and said it has no business to intervene. "No politics should be involved," the bench said.

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