A three Judge Bench of Supreme Court has issued notices to CBI and State of Bihar on a petition challenging the Patna High Court order restraining media from reporting anything with respect to Muzaffarpur shelter home case, on the ground that media reportage will hamper investigation.The case pertains to alleged rape and sexual abuse of children in Muzaffarpur shelter home.
The bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta has sought the response from Bihar government and the CBI, which is investigating the case and listed the matter for September 18.
The bench was informed that the Patna High Court had on August 29 passed an order appointing a lady advocate as an amicus in the case pending there and asked her to visit the place where the alleged victims are staying kept and interview them for the purpose of their rehabilitation.The Court has stayed that order appointing of the amicus.
"We have also noticed that in the media, both print media as well as electronic media, the reporting is made with respect to the case and even with respect to investigation. The same may hamper the investigation very seriously", observed the Division Bench of Patna High Court comprising Chief Justice Mukesh R Shah and Justice Dr. Ravi Ranjan in the impugned Order.
Therefore the Court ordered, "Under the circumstances, till the investigation is completed, all the print and electronic media are hereby restrained from reporting anything with respect to the case, more particularly, with respect to the investigation already undertaken and/or which is likely to take place as it may seriously hamper the investigation of the case"
Earlier, the Supreme Court had restrained print and electronic media from publishing the images of victims of the case, even in blurred or morphed form.
The Patna HC passed the order in a batch of three writ petitions which were filed seeking court-monitored probe in the matter. One of the writ petitions is filed on the basis of letter of social activist Saleem Madavoor dated 29.07.2018. The other two writ petitions are filed by Santhosh Kumar and Navnit Kumar.
The Court also took note of the fact that the investigating officer, J.P Mishra, Superintendent of Police, was transferred in the midst of investigation. The Court had issued an earlier direction to the CBI to place before it in a sealed cover the reasons for transfer of the investigating officer. But the order was not complied by the CBI. Giving one more chance to the CBI, the Court has directed it to place the reasons on August 27.
The Court also took note of the grievance that there was no regular officer appointed to the office of Superintendent of Police, HoB, CBI, SCB, Patna, and that another office from Lucknow was manning the office on additional charge. It was apprehended by the petitioners that this will hamper further investigation.
With inputs from PTI
Read the Petition & Order Here