Bihar to seek top court directive on whether to shift shelter home girls
Bihar plans to ask the Supreme Court (SC) whether it should to keep the sexually abused inmates of a Muzaffarpur women’s shelter at the temporary homes to which they have been shifted or allow them to return to their families, a government official said.
Seven inmates fled the Children’s Home for Girls, Nazareth Hospital, located in Patna’s Mokama neighbourhood and were found and brought back to the shelter last week. Four of the inmates, all minors, were both victims and key witnesses in the Muzaffarpur sex abuse scandal that surfaced last year.
Many of the former inmates have expressed a desire to return home, putting the social welfare department in a fix. The trial of suspects in the sexual abuse case, under the Prevention Of Children From Sexual Offences Act (Pocso Act), is underway at a lower court in Delhi. The case is being monitored by the Supreme Court.
“From the court’s point of view, they are key witnesses who have to be protected. We have to ensure that no one tries to manipulate them in a manner that can affect the trial in court. From the girls’ perspective, they are victims, who now want to go home. They were highly traumatised initially and required expert counselling, which we are providing them,” said Atul Prasad, principal secretary of the social welfare department, Bihar.
“The girls now feel that holding them back in shelters is an infringement of their freedom and rights. We will place all facts before the Supreme Court, which is monitoring the case, and seek a direction.
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