The CBI informed the Supreme Court Thursday that it has recovered skeleton of a minor girl during the ongoing probe into the Muzzafarpur shelter home case in which several girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused. The agency told a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta that it has interviewed the girls who were residing in the shelter home with assistance from experts of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), and needed some more time to talk to them again in view of the facts emerging in the probe. CBI’s counsel told the bench that experts from NIMHANS were dealing with the aspects pertaining to the trauma faced by these girls and the exercise has yielded “good results” so far.
The bench observed that both the “investigation and rehabilitation aspect should go side by side” in the case. “We cannot look only at the investigation factor. We have to look at the rehabilitation factor also. It (rehabilitation) is as important as the investigation.” Advocate Aparna Bhat, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, told the bench that CBI’s probe was going on and the agency was also recording statement of witnesses in the case.
The counsel appearing for Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) said that probe into the case was at a crucial stage and new facts have emerged in the matter. “Various girls are suffering from trauma. They (CBI) are conducting the investigation but they (girls) require separate counselling from NIMHANS. They (girls) cannot be treated only as evidence,” the counsel said.
Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for Bihar government, told the bench that rehabilitation of these girls should continue as they have gone through lot of trauma. The CBI’s counsel also informed the bench that these girls have been treated for post-traumatic disorder and they have got full cooperation from the NIMHANS.
The bench asked the amicus to talk to experts from NIMHANS so that the rehabilitation and counselling of the girls could go on side by side. On September 20, the court had termed as “very disturbing” the facts emerging from CBI’s probe into the case. The amicus had told the court that NIMHANS was assisting CBI on psycho-social and rehabilitation issues of the victims and they may be permitted to complete the task by first week of October.
The court had said other agencies like TISS, should allow the CBI and NIMHANS for the time being to carry out their work. Over 30 girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused at a shelter home run by an NGO in Muzaffarpur and the issue was highlighted in an audit report submitted by TISS to the state’s social welfare department.