Patna: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar recommended a CBI inquiry on Thursday into the alleged sexual exploitation of girls at a state-funded shelter home in Muzaffarpur district, even as the opposition MLAs protested in the state Assembly demanding the probe to be monitored by the high court.
Terming the incident "deplorable", the decision to hand over the case to the CBI was taken to prevent rumour-mongering in the state, an official release said.
Medical examinations of 29 of the 42 shelter home inmates confirmed that they were sexually exploited, state Director General of Police K S Dwivedi had said. "Chief minister Nitish Kumar has directed the Chief Secretary, the Director General of Police and the Principal Secretary (Home) to immediately hand over the case to the CBI," the release said.
"A deplorable incident has taken place in Muzaffarpur, where the police has been carrying out a diligent investigation. Although the government was committed to conducting an impartial probe, the decision for handing over the probe to the CBI has been taken to dispel the 'bhram ka vatavaran' (environment of rumours/falsehood) that was being created," it said.
Opposition parties in the state, while demanding a CBI inquiry, had alleged that the state government was baulking at handing over the matter to the central agency as it wanted to "shield" some of the key accused who were said to be close to the ruling dispensation. Earlier this week, union home minister Rajnath Singh had said in Parliament, where the issue was raised by a number of MPs, that the Centre would consider the matter if the state government recommended a CBI inquiry.
The matter of sexual exploitation of inmates at the shelter home had come to light in the report of a social audit conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. An FIR was subsequently registered on a complaint by the state social welfare department and 10 persons, including the patron of the NGO which ran the shelter home and the then district child protection officer, were arrested.
Meanwhile, the Bihar Assembly was paralysed on the issue for the third consecutive day today as the Opposition leaders demanded that the CBI inquiry must be monitored by the High Court and that Social Welfare Minister Manju Verma be sacked. on Wednesday, the wife of the arrested district child protection officer had alleged that her husband, a government official, was falsely implicated to "shield" the husband of Manju Verma who frequented the facility.
The allegation was strongly opposed by the minister who termed the allegation as politically motivated. Parliamentary affairs minister Shravan Kumar said, "People with any evidence against any person could now approach the CBI". Speaker Vijay Kumar Choudhary sought to pacify the agitated members of the RJD, the Congress and CPI(ML), pointing out that only the court could take a decision as to whether it would monitor the CBI inquiry or not.
As sloganeering in the House went on unabated, many of the MLAs trooped into the well as the Speaker adjourned the House till 2 pm. Later, Congress MLC Prem Chandra Mishra also said the investigation be monitored by the court since the CBI is known for acting under the influence of the government at the Centre.
A Public Interest Litigation filed some time back seeking a CBI probe into irregular functioning of shelter homes for children, including the one at Muzaffarpur, also came up for hearing before the Patna High Court on Thursday. Advocate General Lalit Kishore informed a Division Bench comprising Justices Dr Ravi S Ranjan and S Kumar that the government has recommended handing over the Muzaffarpur shelter home case to the central agency. The court posted the matter for further hearing to the first week of August.
Updated Date: Jul 26, 2018 15:55 PM