23 March 2022 8:54 AM GMT
In relation to the Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual assault case, Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the State of Bihar to file an action take report regarding action taken pursuant to the recommendations of the CBI to initiate disciplinary proceedings against erring officers and blacklisting of NGOs mentioned above.A Bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justice Krishna...
In relation to the Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual assault case, Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the State of Bihar to file an action take report regarding action taken pursuant to the recommendations of the CBI to initiate disciplinary proceedings against erring officers and blacklisting of NGOs mentioned above.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justice Krishna Murari was hearing a petition filed by Bihar based journalist Nivedita Jha, which had challenged the blanket ban imposed by Patna High Court on media reporting of Muzaffarpur shelter home case.
The direction has been issued while considering an application filed by the petitioner seeking directions to the Bihar Government in this regard.
During the hearing, Advocate Shoeb Alam appearing for the petitioner submitted that the problem with regard to shelter homes is endemic. He pointed out that investigation was carried out in 16 shelters but conviction was done only with regard to one of them.
Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan appearing for CBI submitted informed the court that there were total 17 cases and in the main case conviction has taken place.
"There was an investigation team, investigation is complete, with permission of court some officers were allowed to be repatriated to their parent cadre. We are seeking disbanding of the original investigation team, and repatriation of one of the officers'.
'Chargesheets have been filed in all cases, conviction has happened in one. 19 were convicted in the main case.' the ASG informed the court.
With regard to CBI's request for disbanding of the investigation team, Amicus Curiae Advocate Aparna Bhat submitted that 9-10 appeals are still pending before the Delhi High Court, and the Individual officers who assisted the prosecution in the trial may continue to assist the matter in the High Court.
'We can't monitor appeals and SLP's. We can't monitor these cases everyday, investigation etc.' the Bench remarked
The Court while allowing the repatriation of one of the officers on request made by CBI, has decided to consider the prayer for disbanding of the original investigation team on the next date of hearing.
The present application filed through Advocate Fauzia Shakil has pointed out that by its order dated 28th November 2018, the Supreme Court not being satisfied with the investigation carried out by the State Police, by had directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to investigate the affairs of 16 shelter homes in the state of Bihar
Thereafter, the CBI took over the investigation and submitted chargesheets in 16 shelter home cases (other than the Muzaffarpur Shelter Home wherein the trial was concluded and many persons were convicted).
The petitioner has further pointed out that post conclusion of the investigation and filing of chargesheets in various cases, the CBI had also recommended for departmental action to be taken against many District Magistrates, officials of the State Governments etc. and also recommended blacklisting of several NGOs that were running these shelter homes.
It has been submitted that as per the status report filed by the CBI, the agency upon conclusion of investigation had recommended departmental action against 25 District Magistrates and 37 Government Officers
According to the petitioner, despite considerable passage of time since such recommendations, neither is there a status report filed disclosing the action taken against these officials nor is there any information publicly available, which demonstrates if and what action (if any) was taken by the State against the erring officials.
While referring to yet another recent incident of immoral activities at the State run, "Uttar Raksha Grih (After Care Home)"- Gai ghat, Patna, the applicant has submitted that despite the stern action taken by Supreme Court three years back and the subsequent directions passed, the state of Bihar has not taken adequate steps to weed out the rot and check the illegalities being carried out at these shelter homes.
On 3rd June 2019, the Bench had granted a period of three months to the CBI to complete its investigation.
Further, the CBI was directed to investigate other aspects of the case, i.e. (i) the offences alleged under Section 377 IPC, (ii) the offences under the IT Act regarding video recording of the sexual exploitation of the inmates of the shelter homes, (iii) the other persons, including the outsiders and officers who were involved and facilitated in the sexual abuse of the inmates who were being abused under intoxication of drugs; and (iv) the illegal trafficking of the girls by this Institute.
The CBI was asked to submit the final report within a period of three months. All concerned parties were directed to co-operate with the CBI so that the investigation can be concluded within the extended period granted.
Background: Over 30 girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused at the Muzaffarpur shelter home and the issue was first highlighted in an audit report submitted by the TISS to the social welfare department of the Bihar government. An FIR was lodged against 11 people, and the probe was later taken over by the CBI.
In 2018, the SC had lifted the ban on media reporting by reversing the Patna HC order. However, the very same bench observed that statutory norms and guidelines were being routinely violated by press while reporting sexual crimes, which was not in accordance with "journalistic ethics". The Court had also issued notice to media bodies observing that "entire issue needs to be balanced and looked at in the broader view of criminal justice and freedom of the Press".
Case Title: Nivedita Jha v State of Bihar, SLP (C) 24978 OF 2018