The CBI informed a Delhi court on Wednesday that it has appointed two Special Public Prosecutors (SPPs) in the Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual assault case, after which both sides were directed to "positively commence" arguments on framing of charges from March 2.
Additional Sessions Judge Saurabh Kulshreshtha told the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that if the agency wanted to file a supplementary charge sheet in the matter, it has to be done within 15 days.
The court was informed that advocates Amit Jindal and R N Sinha have been appointed as SPPs by the agency.
Jindal told the court that he received the notification for his appointment from the agency last night and sought time to prepare his arguments on the framing of charges.
The court then said, "Both the parties are directed to positively commence arguments on March 2."
CBI would advance the arguments first on Saturday, the next date of hearing.
On February 25, the court had rapped the CBI for the delay in notifying SPP in the sexual assault case and warned it that any laxity to comply with the court's order will amount to contempt and action would be taken against the agency for it.
"Do not expect the court to wait for one week for the notification to come. You are as much bound by the Supreme Court order as I am. Do not take me to that stage that I should write to the Supreme Court that the CBI is in contempt of the order initiated by the court. Already once you have suffered contempt," the judge had said.
The apex court had on February 7 ordered that the shelter home sexual assault case be transferred from Bihar to a Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) court at Saket district court complex here, which would conclude the trial within six months by preferably holding a "day-to-day" trial.
Several girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused at an NGO-run shelter home in Muzaffarpur in Bihar. The issue had come to light following a report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).
On the TISS report, the apex court had said it raised grave concern about 17 shelter homes in Bihar and the CBI must look into all of them. Of these, the Muzaffarpur case was already being looked into by the CBI.
In the Muzaffarpur shelter home case, an FIR was lodged on May 31, 2018 against 11 people following the TISS report.
The probe was later taken over by the CBI and 21 people have been named as accused in its charge sheet filed before a special court in Patna. All the accused are in custody.
The CBI had on December 19 last year filed a voluminous charge sheet in which owner of the NGO which ran the home, Brajesh Thakur, his employees, his associate Shaista Parveen and a government officer Rekha Rani have been named.
The amicus curiae had also told the apex court that there were 1,028 shelter homes across India where instances of sexual and physical abuse have been reported.