The Patna High Court on Monday pulled up investigators working on the Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case for their choice of a police chief to oversee the case, NDTV reported. The court said the case cannot be given to an officer who is already in charge of three cities – Lucknow, Patna and Ranchi.
The court asked why an officer holding charge of three cities “should be put in charge of a sensitive case”. “This case has to be investigated at the earliest...you can post anyone, but he should not be in-charge SP,” the court said.
The Central Bureau of Investigation on Monday submitted a progress report on the case to the Patna High Court.
The agency also submitted a report on the transfer of the CBI Superintendent of Police, JP Mishra, who was investigating the case, reported PTI. Mishra was transferred and attached to the office of the deputy inspector general at Patna after an order passed by the CBI headquarters on August 21.
The High Court questioned the agency on why Mishra was transferred, saying the CBI will have to provide “proper justification” for the matter. While going through the report on the transfer, the court asked the CBI to submit the correspondence material connected with it.
On the High Court’s gag order that restrains the media from reporting about the investigation, the court said there were concerns about reports of the case benefiting the accused and that the court could impose “reasonable restrictions if required in larger public interest”. The court assured the media of an amicable solution.
“I’m not against freedom speech and media...[but] there should be no media trial... accused should not be benefited in advance by media reports, which we are apprehensive about,” said Chief Justice MR Shah. The matter will be heard next again on Tuesday.
The Editors Guild of India on Friday expressed expressed concerns about the Patna High Court’s gag order.
The alleged sexual exploitation of children in the shelter came to light after Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences submitted an audit report of 110 shelter homes in Bihar in April. The audit had been ordered by the state government, which filed a First Information Report on May 31.
Initially, the police said 16 girls had been sexually assaulted. Later, the figure was revised to 34 on the basis of a medical report released by the Patna Medical College and Hospital.
The Bihar Police registered a First Information Report against former social welfare minister of the state, Manju Verma, and her husband on August 19 after 50 cartridges were found in her in-law’s home during a search operation in connection with the case. Verma stepped down from her post on August 8 after allegations surfaced about her husband Chandeshwar Verma’s links to Brajesh Thakur, who used to run the shelter.