A Delhi court is likely to pronounce on Thursday its judgment in the case of alleged sexual and physical assault on several girls at a shelter home in Muzaffarpur, which was run by former Bihar People’s Party (BPP) MLA Brajesh Thakur. The court reserved its order on September 30 after final arguments by the CBI counsel and 11 accused in the case in which former Bihar Social Welfare minister and the then JD(U) leader Manju Verma also faced flak as allegations surfaced that Thakur, the key accused, had links with her husband. She had resigned from her post on August 8, 2018.
The CBI had told a special court that there was enough evidence against all the 21 accused in the case. Although the verdict has been listed for Thursday, the lawyers’ strike in all the six district courts here, following the recent clash between the police and advocates, is yet to be called off. The accused in the case have claimed that the CBI had not conducted “fair investigation” in the case, which has been registered under provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and entails life imprisonment as the maximum punishment. The cases were also registered under a criminal conspiracy to commit rape and penetrative sexual assault.
Additional Sessions Judge Saurabh Kulshreshtha, during the in-camera trial, concluded the arguments in the case which had begun on February 25 this year. The case was transferred on February 7 from a local court in Muzaffarpur in Bihar to a POCSO court at Saket district court complex in Delhi on the Supreme Court’s directions. During the trial, counsel for the CBI told the court that the statements of the minor girls, who were allegedly sexually assaulted, point to the fact that there was enough evidence against all the accused and they should be convicted.
Advocate Pramod Kumar Dubey, appearing for the prime accused Brajesh Thakur, told the court that all the cases were “vague” in nature as there was no particular date, place and time mentioned by the prosecution for the incidents and the CBI had not done a “fair investigation”. Counsel for another accused, advocate Gyanendra Mishra told the court that the CBI has done a “defective” and “lopsided” investigation. The prosecution has completely failed to bring any evidence to support the allegations, Mishra, appearing for the chairperson of Muzaffarpur Child Welfare Committee (CWC) Dilip Kumar Verma and its member Vikas Kumar, argued. He further said that it was a case of “zero” evidence and the statements of the victims do not support the charges framed against any of the accused and hence the accused must be acquitted.
The court had earlier framed various charges, including criminal conspiracy to commit rape and penetrative sexual assault, against 21 people in the case. Thakur, the prime accused in the case, was charged under provisions of the POCSO Act, including Section 6 (aggravated sexual assault). The offence carries a punishment of a minimum 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment. The accused include employees of his shelter home and the Bihar department of social welfare officials.
Several girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused at an NGO-run shelter home in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. The issue had come to light following a report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). The TISS report was given to the Bihar Government on May 26, 2018, highlighting the alleged sexual abuses of minor girls in the shelter home for the first time.
On May 29 last year the state government shifted the girls from the shelter home to other protection homes. On May 31, 2018, FIR was lodged against the 11 accused in the case. The top court had on August 2 taken cognisance of the alleged sexual assaults of minor girls in Muzaffarpur’s shelter home and transferred the probe to the CBI on November 28.