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Patna HC pulls up CBI in the Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual abuse case

The Patna HC is monitoring the probe in the case of sexual abuse at the government-funded short stay home for girls in Muzaffarpur on the request of Bihar government.

patna Updated: Aug 24, 2018 13:00 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
muzaffarpur shelter home case,patna high court,patna HC
People protest march against thef Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual abuse case, in Patna on August 05, 2018. (PTI)

The Patna high court on Thursday pulled up the CBI for its failure to submit progress report in connection with the investigation into Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual abuse case. It also sought to know as to why an SP-rank officer, who had been part of the probe team, was transferred.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Mukesh R Shah and Justice Ravi Ranjan directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to file its reply by the next date of hearing on August 27 and place it before the court in a sealed cover.

The Patna HC is monitoring the probe in the case of sexual abuse at the government-funded short stay home for girls in Muzaffarpur on the request of Bihar government.

In its previous order of August 6, the court had directed the SP, CBI, to appear before it through a counsel and submit a report with regard to the progress of the investigation.

The police officer, JP Mishra, was shifted from the special crime branch and attached to the office of the DIG in Patna vide an order passed by the CBI headquarters on August 21.

Mishra, who had been transferred to Patna barely two months ago, was transferred on Tuesday evening with immediate effect and posted as SP in the office of DIG (Patna range). Devendra Singh, SP, CBI (anti-corruption bureau, Lucknow) has been given the additional charge held by Mishra.

A CBI official had claimed that Mishra was transferred to Patna from Jammu and Kashmir on health grounds. “Devendra Singh had earlier stayed in Patna and hence he has been given the charge. Mishra will continue to cooperate with Singh,” he said.

A senior official said that the CBI had interrogated a Unicef counsellor, Sunil Kumar Jha, in the Muzaffarpur shelter home case and next in line would have been those to whom Jha reported.

The official said CBI might portray the transfer as routine, but the timing had left ample scope for people to speculate. “The CBI was looking into the financial and other related aspects to get to the genesis of the entire episode,” he added.

The court asked the central probe agency to explain as to why Mishra, who was the investigating officer in the case, was transferred.

Opposition parties in the state have criticised the reshuffle, alleging that it would adversely affect the probe.

Meanwhile, the court also expressed displeasure over leak of details of the investigation and asked the media to refrain from publishing the same as it could be detrimental to the probe.

The sexual assault of 34 girls over a period of time in the government-funded Muzaffarpur shelter home came to light after a social audit was conducted by the Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

An FIR was subsequently registered by the Bihar social welfare department and 10 persons, including prime accused Brajesh Thakur whose NGO ran the shelter home, were arrested.

However, following a huge outcry, the Nitish Kumar government handed over the probe to the CBI a month ago, which was followed by the resignation of social welfare minister Manju Verma a few days later.

At the previous day of hearing on the matter, government had requested the high court to monitor the CBI probe and consider appointing a special judge for speedy trial. Both the requests had been accepted by the court.

First Published: Aug 24, 2018 13:00 IST