The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Bihar government to file a report on action taken against state officers on the recommendations of the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual assault case, Live Law reported.

The case pertains to the rape and torture of over 30 girls at an non-governmental organisation-run shelter home in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur. The matter came to light in May 2018 when an audit report was submitted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai based on conversations with several inmates of the shelter home.

The Central Bureau of Investigation had recommended initiating disciplinary proceedings against the officers involved in the case.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justice Krishna Murari was hearing an application by Bihar journalist Nivedita Jha, seeking disclosure of action taken against erring officers.

The prime accused in the case, Brajesh Thakur, was convicted by a Delhi court along with 18 others in January 2020 under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. Thakur used to run the shelter home.

The plea

Wednesday’s directive by the court came after Advocate Shoeb Alam, appearing for the petitioner, said that the problem of sexual abuse in shelter homes is endemic, Live Law reported.

Alam pointed out the Supreme Court’s November 2018 order asking the Central Bureau of Investigation to look into 16 more shelter homes in Bihar after the Muzaffarpur case emerged, ANI reported.

Alam said that while investigation was done into how other shelter homes are being run, only accused persons in the Muzaffarpur matter were convicted.

The petitioner stated the Central Bureau of Investigation had recommended departmental action against 25 district magistrates and 37 government officers once inquiry was over and chargesheets were filed in several cases.

However, information related to whether action was taken against them is not publicly available, Jha said in her petition.

SC against sealed cover submission

After this, the Supreme Court ordered the Bihar government to submit the action-taken report. “The petitioner has sought a direction regarding probe into the shelter homes,” the bench said, The Hindu reported.

Advocate Manish Kumar, appearing for the Bihar government, said that the state had taken action on the recommendations of the central agency and he would submit the report in a sealed cover, The Indian Express reported.

But, the court declined his proposal of submitting the report in a sealed cover. “Why sealed cover?” Ramana asked.

The chief justice said he was not seeking information about the inmates who were sexually assaulted and only wanted to know whether action had been initiated against the erring officers. This information, Ramana said, need not be submitted in a sealed cover.

The court listed the matter for next hearing after two weeks, The Hindu reported.