'Fantastic! A cabinet minister is on the run': SC judge hearing Muzaffarpur case tears into Bihar Police for not arresting Manju Verma
The CBI had found 50 live cartridges at Manju Verma's home in Bihar's Begusarai during a raid conducted in connection with the Muzaffarpur shelter homes rape case.
The Supreme Court on Monday severely criticised the Bihar Police for failing to arrest former state social welfare minister Manju Verma, who has links to the Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had found 50 live cartridges from her home in Bihar's Begusarai during a raid conducted in connection with the Muzaffarpur case.
"Fantastic! A cabinet minister is on the run, fantastic. How could a cabinet minister be absconding and nobody knows where she is? You realise the seriousness of the issue that a cabinet minister is not traceable? It's too much," Justice Madan B Lokur observed in court.
"We are quite shocked that a former cabinet minister cannot be traced by the police for over a month. We would like the police to tell us how such an important person is not traceable," the bench said, asking the Director General of Police of Bihar to appear before the bench at the next hearing on 27 November and explain, if she is not caught by then.
The Supreme Court also summoned the Chief Secretary of Bihar and asked him to explain "why action was not taken against 14 other shelter homes, against which cases of torture and sexual abuse of girls, were reported by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences", NDTV reported.
On 1 November, a non-bailable warrant was issued against Verma after the Supreme Court pulled up the Bihar government and questioned why she had not been arrested. "Is the former minister above the law, and is something wrong with the Bihar government?" the court had asked.
Earlier, the Bihar Police had told the Supreme Court that Verma was "untraceable". Patna Senior Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj had said that the Patna Police had not conducted any search to look for the former state cabinet minister, The Indian Express reported.
Both the former minister and her husband Chandrashekhar Verma were booked under the Arms Act after live ammunition was found at their house. Chandrashekhar Verma had surrendered before a Begusarai court on 29 October. He is accused of having links with the main accused in the Muzaffarpur case, Brajesh Thakur, who ran the shelter home at which at least 30 girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused.
During the investigation into the Muzaffarpur shelter home case, it was found that Chandrashekhar Verma and Thakur had spoken several times between January and June this year. Soon after, Manju resigned as the social welfare minister in the Bihar government.
Thakur was transferred out of Bihar to a jail in Patiala on 30 October, as the Supreme Court was of the opinion that his influential stature in the state could affect the fairness of the investigation into the Muzaffarpur case.
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