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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

‘Shameful, inhuman’: SC raps Bihar over rule violations in 17 shelter homes

Mumbai-based TISS had indicted the shelter homes in Bihar after it found several violations. However, criminal cases were registered only in connection with ten under lesser offences.

india Updated: Nov 27, 2018 12:52 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
CBI officials at the Muzaffarpur shelter home, where 34 minor girls were allegedly raped.
CBI officials at the Muzaffarpur shelter home, where 34 minor girls were allegedly raped.(PTI File Photo)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday hauled the Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government over the coals for not filing sodomy and abuse cases against shelter homes indicted in a study report earlier this year.

The Muzaffarpur shelter home abuse case that hit headlines in July this year was only one of the 17 shelter homes indicted in the study by Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences. But criminal cases have only been registered against 10 shelter homes. This too, the Supreme Court noted, has not been done under the appropriate criminal provisions.

In one instance, TISS found sexual violence at a shelter home for boys but the First Information Report, or FIR, filed by the government does not include stringent penal code provisions such as sodomy. In another, a child who refused to cook food suffered a three-inch long scar on his cheek. In both cases, the police only filed a case under the juvenile justice law.

“Only God can save,” the top court remarked, indicating that it might transfer all abuse cases flagged in the TISS report to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

“What are you (Bihar government) doing? It’s shameful. If the child is sodomised you say it’s nothing? How can you do this? It’s inhuman. We were told that matter will be looked with great seriousness, this is seriousness? Every time I read this file it’s tragic,” the court said, according to news agency ANI.

Also read: Children in Bihar adoption centres locked in washrooms, verbally abused

The top court gave the Nitish Kumar government 24 hours to add the charges in the FIRs registered by the police.

“If we find that there were offences under section 377 IPC (rape) and POCSO Act (sex abuse of children) and you did not register FIR, we will pass an order against the government,” the top court warned.

Over the last few weeks, the Supreme Court has taken the Bihar government to task on several occasions for its handling of the probe into the Muzaffarpur shelter home. Over 30 of the 42 girls at the short-stay home were alleged to have been sexually abused.

It was only after the top court delivered a sharp warning to the police that Manju Verma, a former minister in Nitish Kumar cabinet, eventually surrendered. Verma was on the run after the CBI recovered ammunition from her home during a raid in connection with the sexual abuse scandal.

Verma had stepped down as social welfare minister in August after her husband, Chandrashekhar Verma, came under scan for allegedly visiting the Muzaffarpur shelter home multiple times.

Also read: In Muzaffarpur’s shelter home, a web of silence shielded sexual abuse

First Published: Nov 27, 2018 11:45 IST

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