The Supreme Court on Thursday asked former Central Bureau of Investigation interim Director M Nageswara Rao to appear before it on February 12 in connection with the Muzaffarpur shelter home abuse case, ANI reported.
The court issued a contempt notice to Rao for transferring former Joint Director AK Sharma to the Central Reserve Police Force on January 17 without taking its permission. The top court said the CBI’s move amounted to violation of its order. “We are going to take it very very seriously,” said Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. “You have played with the order of the Supreme Court of India.”
The court also asked CBI Director Rishi Kumar Shukla to give the names of officers who were part of the process to transfer Sharma and asked all of them to appear on February 12.
The judges, meanwhile, ordered the transfer of trial in the case from Bihar to a court in New Delhi within two weeks, PTI reported. It will now be tried by a Saket trial court that deals with cases filed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. The Supreme Court ordered the lower court to complete the trial in six months.
The Supreme Court also criticised the Bihar government for its management of shelter homes. “Enough is enough,” the court said. “Children cannot be treated like this. You cannot let your officers treat children this way. Spare the children.” The top court said it will summon the chief secretary if the state fails to provide all the information on the case.
The alleged sexual exploitation of children at a shelter home in Muzaffarpur came to light in April 2018 after Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences submitted an audit report of 110 shelter homes in Bihar. The audit had been ordered by the state government, which filed a first information report against 11 people on May 31.
At least 34 inmates were allegedly drugged and raped, according to law enforcement agencies. The Central Bureau of Investigation, in it chargesheet filed in December, alleged that the main accused, Brajesh Thakur, had coerced girls to dance to vulgar songs and have sexual intercourse with guests. Thakur is lodged in a high-security prison in Punjab at present.
The agency named 21 people as accused and has listed 101 people, including 33 alleged victims, as witnesses.
Former state minister Manju Verma had surrendered in a court in Begusarai in November, after her resignation in August in the wake of allegations that her husband Chandrashekhar Verma had links with Thakur.