Seeks to know why victim girls were transferred out by Bihar govt even before TISS report was released
Expecting the CBI to conduct “great in-depth scrutiny” in the sequence of events concerning the Bihar Shelter home sexual abuse case, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed the probe agency to seize all record of the Social Welfare Department to ascertain why some victim girls were transferred out of the Home two months before the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) report was submitted to the state while also ordering the Bihar police to probe “with some degree of seriousness” the recovery of ammunition from former minister Manju Verma and her husband.
A bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta said upon going through the status reports filed by the CBI before the Patna High Court.
The bench also ordered that Income Tax Department should look into the income and assets of Brajesh Thakur and the NGO Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti which ran the shelter home in Muzzafarpur.
Considering that neighbours often heard screams of the girls from the shelter home but never dared complaint against it due to Thakur’s terror, the bench also asked CBI to look into his connections, antecedents and influence.
The bench listed few areas which, it felt, needed to be further looked into by the CBI.
The areas which it listed are as follows:
We request the local police in the State of Bihar to look into this aspect with some degree of seriousness.
Did Social Welfare Deptt Knew Of The Activities? Why Were Girls Transferred Out Before TISS Report Blew Off The Lid?
The court also wondered why some victim girls were transferred out on 20th March 2018, by the Social Welfare Department from the Shelter Home, as mentioned in the CBI’s status report.
“It is not clear why these girls were transferred out, particularly when the Report given by TISS became known to the State Government sometime in May 2018. The transfer seems to suggest that the Social Welfare Department of the Government of Bihar was aware of certain unsavoury activities in the Shelter Home and that may have been the reason for the transfer of the victim girls,” the bench noted.
“The CBI should seize the record of the Social Welfare Department in this regard and carry out the investigation. We would also require the State of Bihar to file the affidavit indicating the circumstances necessitating the transfer of some girls out of the Shelter Home by the Social Welfare Department,” it ordered.
The bench has now called for a status report from CBI in a sealed cover within four weeks.
On the request of amicus curiae and the Special Public Prosecutor that since NIMHANS is assisting the CBI in the issue of revelations of the girl victims, they may be permitted to complete the task by the first week of October, 2018, the bench asked other agencies, i.e., TISS, NGO Enfold and any other NGO associated in this regard, for the time being, to permit the CBI and NIMHANS to work on the psycho-social issues and consequent revelations and then other issues of rehabilitation can be taken up by them.
Meanwhile, the court also lifted the gag order imposed on media by the Patna High Court saying there can be no blanket ban but said, “The entire issue needs to be balanced and looked at in the broader view of criminal justice and freedom of the Press” and issued notices to the Press Council of India, the News Broadcasting Standards Authority, the Editors’ Guild and the Indian Broadcasting Federation.
It requested media not to sensationalize such events while restraining the electronic media from telecasting or broadcasting the images of the victims in a morphed or blurred form or interviewing them.