Bihar Shelter Home Sexual Abuse Case: SC Lists Areas Of Concern For CBI, Bihar Police To Conduct In-Depth Scrutiny [Read Order]
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:
- It appears that the person-in-charge of NGO Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti, Mr. Brajesh Thakur is a very influential person and people in the neighborhood are scared of him and not able to make any complaint against him. In fact it has come out that people in the neighborhood have heard screaming by the girls in the Shelter Home but they do not bring it to the notice of anybody because of the apparent terror of Mr. Brajesh Thakur. The CBI will need to look into the antecedents, connections and influence of Mr. Brajesh Thakur.
- It has also come on record that the NGO of Mr. Brajesh Thakur, i.e., Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti has received about Rs. 4.5 crores from the State of Bihar over a period of about 10 years for its activities. During this period, it has also purchased 35 vehicles. The other assets of the NGO or Mr. Brajesh Thakur do not appear to be very clear. It is necessary, in our opinion, that the Income Tax Department should look into the income and assets of Mr. Brajesh Thakur and indeed of the NGO Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti.
The CBI team should request the Chief Commissioner/Commissioner having jurisdiction in the area to look into this matter and to investigate the affairs of the NGO and of Mr. Brajesh Thakur from the income tax angle.
- It has also come on record that one Mr. Chandrashekhar Verma and his wife Manju Verma have been in possession of illegal ammunition of a fairly large quantity. It is not clear whether they were in possession of illegal arms as well. The status report mentions that an FIR has been lodged against Chandrashekhar Verma and Manju Verma. The affairs of these two need to be looked into, particularly with regard to their procurement and possession of illegal ammunition and availability of illegal weapons, if any.
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.Read the Order Here