Muzaffarpur shelter home: SC to pass order on re-union of girls with their families

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Published: September 11, 2019 8:37:45 PM

The apex court had in June granted three months to the CBI to complete the probe in the case, including suspected murders, and had directed it to widen the scope to investigate the "outsiders" involved in the crime.

It had also directed the CBI to probe the allegations of unnatural sexual assault under section 377 of the Indian Penal Code in the Muzaffarpur case.

The Supreme Court Wednesday said it would pass order on the issue of re-union of girls of Bihar’s Muzaffarpur shelter home, where allegations of rampant sexual assault surfaced last year, with their families. Several girls were sexually assaulted at an NGO-run shelter home in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, and the issue had come to light following a report by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) which had conducted a social audit. A bench of justices N V Ramana and Ajay Rastogi said it would pass order on the issue of re-union on Thursday.

The apex court said this after ‘Koshish’, a field action project of TISS, filed a status report before it in a sealed cover and said eight girls are fit to be handed over to their families. The counsel appearing for TISS told the bench that ‘Koshish’ has contacted the family members of five girls but the home visit is due. She said that in case of some girls, their extended families are willing to take them back while some of the girls are children with special need. One of the girls is unable to give the address of her family but she has given details of the locality where her family resides, she said. The lawyer said that restoration order should be passed by the top court regarding the girls who are fit to be handed over to their families and necessary directions should be given to the child welfare committee. “We will pass some order tomorrow,” the bench said.

The apex court had in July this year allowed ‘Koshish’ to interact with these children and their respective families to find out the acceptability of these children to their families and the repercussions thereupon. The court is dealing with an application filed by Bihar government seeking permission to complete the process of rehabilitation and restoration of 44 girls of Muzaffarpur shelter home, who are presently residing in different shelter homes in the state, with their families. During the hearing on Wednesday, the counsel appearing for the Centre told the bench that they have filed a status report on the National Child Protection Policy, which is aimed at curbing the incidents of sexual abuse of children.

The counsel appearing for Bihar had earlier told the top court that children of Muzaffarpur shelter home have been kept in different child care institutions and some of them have started showing aggressive behaviour and also indulged in inflicting self harm. The apex court had in June granted three months to the CBI to complete the probe in the case, including suspected murders, and had directed it to widen the scope to investigate the “outsiders” involved in the crime. It had also directed the CBI to probe the allegations of unnatural sexual assault under section 377 of the Indian Penal Code in the Muzaffarpur case.

Besides, it had asked the CBI to probe the offences under the Information Technology Act regarding the video recordings of the alleged assault on girls at the shelter home. Trial against 21 accused, chargesheeted by the CBI in for alleged sexual and physical assault on the inmates, is going on in a trial court of Delhi. The apex court in February had transferred the case from Bihar to a Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) court in Saket District Court complex in Delhi.

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