NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday decided to monitor the CBI probe in the case of Muzaffarpur shelter home rapes and sought a status report from the central agency in four weeks. The top court asked the media to exercise caution while reporting the case.
A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta also vacated a Patna High Court order restraining the media from reporting the case. The apex court clarified that "there can't be a blanket ban but the media needs to be cautious and diligent while reporting".
Earlier, the Patna High Court was monitoring the case. Perusing the status reports an investigation in the case filed by the CBI before it, the bench ordered Income Tax department to conduct a probe involving accused Brajesh Thakur and his NGO Seva Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti in Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case and find out details of their assets and expenditure of Rs 4.5 crore granted by Bihar government in the last decade.
"It is necessary, in our opinion, that the Income Tax Department should look into the income and assets of Brajesh Thakur and indeed of the NGO Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti," ordered the bench.
The apex court also said that it appears that the person-in-charge of the NGO, Brajesh Thakur is a very influential person and people in the neighbourhood are scared of him and not able to make any complaint against him.
"It has come to light that people in the neighbourhood have heard screaming by girls in the shelter home but they did not bring it to the notice of anybody because of the apparent terror of Brajesh Thakur. The CBI will need to look into the antecedents, connections and influence of Brajesh Thakur," the bench said.
The sexual abuse of at least 34 girl inmates at the shelter home run by NGO of Thakur in Muzaffarpur came to light during a social audit by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
An FIR was lodged against 11 people, including Thakur, on May 31. The probe was later taken over by the CBI.
In the order, the court also said that has also come on record that one Chandrashekhar Verma and his wife Manju Verma have been in possession of illegal ammunition of a fairly large quantity and it is not clear whether they were in possession of illegal arms as well.
"The status report mentions that an FIR has been lodged against Chandrashekhar Verma and Manju Verma. The affairs of these two need to be looked into, particularly with regard to their procurement and possession of illegal ammunition and availability of illegal weapons, if any," it added.
The CBI's status report also mentioned that some girls were transferred on March 20, 2018 by the Social Welfare Department from shelter home run by Thakur's NGO.
It is not clear why these girls were transferred out, particularly when the report given by TISS became known to the state government sometime in May 2018.
"The transfer seems to suggest that the Social Welfare Department of the government of Bihar was aware of certain unsavoury activities in the shelter home and that may have been the reason for transfer of the victim girls," the court said and ordered the CBI to seize the record of the Social Welfare Department and carry out the investigation.
It further asked the Bihar government to file the affidavit indicating the circumstances necessitating the transfer of some girls out of the shelter home by the Social Welfare Department.