The Supreme Court on Thursday took suo motu cognizance of the alleged sexual exploitation and torture of more than 30 minor girls in a shelter home in Muzaffarpur in Bihar, issuing a notice to the State as well as the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
The Bench comprising Justice MB Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta also expressed concern over media houses revealing the identity of child rape victims and restrained them from publishing their photos and videos even in blurred and morphed forms. It further appointed Advocate Aparna Bhat as the amicus curiae in the case.
It was in June, 2017 that the Social Welfare Department, which looks after shelter and short-stay homes in the State, asked the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai to prepare a report on their condition. However, little did the seven-member team of young psychologists of the ‘Koshish Project’ know that they would be blowing the lid off a sordid tale of sexual abuse of the scale that has surfaced.
The report, submitted on April 26 this year, made startling revelations about “physical and sexual violations of girls,” especially at the Muzaffarpur home. The Department then filed an FIR at the women’s police station in Muzaffarpur on May 31, seeking “suitable action” on the plight of girls interviewed by the TISS team.
The police has since arrested the main accused, Brajesh Thakur, the man who was managing the NGO, Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti, which had been given a contract to run the home. Nine others, including seven women employees at the home, were also arrested and sent to jail on July 26. One accused, Dilip Verma, is still absconding.
Meanwhile, the political storm triggered by the report has prompted the Nitish Kumar government to bring in the Central Bureau of Investigation. A team led by CBI inspector Vibha Kumari has landed in Muzaffarpur to begin a probe.