The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed a Patna High Court order asking the CBI special director to set up a fresh team to probe the Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual abuse case.
The high court had on 29 August ordered that a fresh team of investigators be constituted by Special Director of CBI Rakesh Asthana in the case. However, on Tuesday an SC bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said changing the CBI team at this stage will be detrimental to the ongoing investigation. Instead, the apex court gave a go-ahead to the team under CBI director Alok Verma.
Supreme Court stays Patna High Court order directing probe to be monitored by CBI special director Rakesh Aasthana. Court gives go ahead to team constituted by CBI Director Alok Verma to probe the matter.
— The Leaflet (@TheLeaflet_in) September 18, 2018
Attorney-General KK Venugopal told the court that the existing probe team carrying out the investigation was set up by the CBI director on 30 July. "We don't see any reason why the existing CBI team, probing the Muzaffarpur shelter home case, should be changed at this stage," the apex court said. It asked the high court to adjourn the matters regarding the case pending before it until further orders.
Over 30 girls were allegedly raped at the shelter home run by Brajesh Thakur, the chief of a state-funded NGO. The alleged sexual exploitation of the girls was first highlighted in an audit report submitted by TISS to the state's social welfare department.
The top court also asked the probe agency to place before it the two status reports of the probe in the case which were filed earlier before the Patna High Court and listed the matter for further hearing on 20 September.
An FIR was lodged against 11 people, including Thakur, on 31 May. The probe was taken over by the CBI. The incidents of alleged rape and sexual assault of the female inmates had come to light after a social audit was conducted by the Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).
The Patna high court, which has been monitoring the probe, had on 23 August expressed displeasure over the leak of details of the investigation and asked the media to refrain from publishing it as it could be harmful to the probe.
A plea was filed against this on 5 September in the apex court seeking a stay on the high court order restraining the media from reporting the investigation. In the plea filed before the apex court, the petitioner, a journalist, has claimed that there was no material before the high court to come to a conclusion that media reporting may hamper the ongoing investigation in the case.
In all, the sexual abuse of 34 of the 42 inmates was confirmed in their medical examination. The TISS audit report had said that many girls at the shelter home had complained of sexual abuse.
A special investigation team was formed to probe the complaints.
The NGO running the shelter home in Muzaffarpur was blacklisted and the girls were shifted to shelter homes in Patna and Madhubani. Women staff members of the shelter home and Thakur were among those who were arrested by the police in connection with the case.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Sep 18, 2018 13:39:19 IST