The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has informed the Supreme Court that its probe into the allegations of sexual assault, exploitation and trafficking in 17 shelter homes of Bihar is complete, except in two cases except in two cases.
On November 28, 2018, the Top Court had asked the CBI to probe into the allegations of sexual abuse and physical torture at shelter homes in Bihar which were flagged in a report of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).
The 16 child care institutions had been identified as being of "grave concern" in the state's own affidavit.
"That in compliance of the order dated 28.11.2018, passed by this Hon'ble court, CBI took over investigation of remaining 16 shelter homes and registered 12 regular cases and 4 preliminary enquiries spread over 10 different districts of Bihar i.e. Patna, Muzaffarpur, Munger, Kaimur, Araria, Madhepura, Bhagalpur, Madhubani, Gaya, Motihari in addition to already registered case of Balika Grih, Muzaffarpur, Bihar" - CBI
The CBI in its application has stated that there is gross negligence apparent on the face of record at the behest of public servants and NGOs running these shelter homes in several cases.
"Evidence of gross negligence was found on part of public servants and NGOs running the homes for which CBI reports have been sent to govt of Bihar for taking departmental actions against erring Government officials and cancellation of registration of NGO's and blacklisting them and their officer bearers for future social/Governmental contracts.... The CBI reports/self contained note have been forwarded to the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Bihar for taking actions against erring Govt. servants in all cases" - CBI
In light of this, the CBI has stated that detailed reports have been sent to Bihar government for taking departmental action against erring government officials as well as for cancellation of NGO's registrations, in addition to blacklisting them. The application states that further probe regarding Muzaffarpur shelter home and short-stay home at Motihari is going on and final reports have been filed before the competent courts in 13 cases.
"Reports under section 173 CRPC have been filed in all 13 regular cases in the competent courts. No incriminating evidence proving commission of any criminal offence could be gathered in 4 preliminary enquiries as as such no FIR was registered. The Govt. of Bihar has been requested to take departmental actions and action of cancellation of registration and blacklisting of concerned NGO's and office bearers of NGO... That further investigation in Muzaffarpur Shelter Home case and short stay home Motihari is being carried out"
In this backdrop, the CBI has sought permission of the Top Court for grant of utilisation of services of team members of the Investigating team of shelter home cases of Bihar for other official works as assigned task has been completed except in Muzaffarpur and Motihari.
In pursuance of its earlier observation that the Bihar local police "is not doing its job as expected", the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Madan B. Lokur had transferred to the CBI the investigation into the allegations of sexual abuse of the residents of 16 children's homes in the state.
"The police is not doing its job as expected", recorded the bench, also comprising Justices Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta.
Directing that no CBI official entrusted with the investigation in any of these cases be transferred without the permission of the court, the bench required the first status report to be filed in January, 2019.
The bench had also come down heavily on the state for its "soft" and "selective" approach in registering FIRs only in respect of 10 homes out of the said 17, and abstaining from proceeding under the aggravated offences in sections 323, 325, 375 and 377 of the IPC, taking recourse instead to the POCSO and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
On February 7, 2018, the Supreme Court had ordered the transfer of the Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual assault case from Bihar to a court in New Delhi and slammed the state government for its management of shelter homes.
Several girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused at an NGO-run shelter home in Muzaffarpur. The issue came to light in May last year following a report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).
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