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Supreme Court transfers cases of 17 Bihar shelter homes to CBI

Supreme Court transfers cases of 17 Bihar shelter homes to CBI
Supreme Court (File)
New Delhi, Nov 28 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 11/28/2018 12:13:27 PM IST

Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the CBI to investigate the “gamut of allegations” involving 17 Bihar shelter homes for children, destitute women, beggars and senior citizens in the aftermath of the case of sexual abuse of children in a Muzaffarpur shelter home in the State.

The CBI is already investigating the Muzaffarpur case as per the orderes of the court, which slammed the Nitish Kumar government in the presence of the Bihar Chief Secretary for “not doing its job properly.”

The State, represented by advocates Gopal Singh and Manish Kumar, repeatedly urged the court to not transfer the cases to the CBI, but the court remained firm.

“If the State government had done its job properly, these cases would not have gone to the CBI. You had enough time, yet you did not do your job properly,” Justice Madan B. Lokur told the Bihar side.

The last straw was when the court realised that FIRs so far registered in these cases mention only petty offences. None of the serious offences alleged fail to find mention in the 11 FIRs so far lodged in cases of abuse and torture in the 17 shelter homes. The court, on November 27, gave the government 24 hours to repair the situation or hand over the case to the CBI.

On Wednesday, the Bihar side came up with a “communication” from a police higher-up to the investigation officer, blankly asking the latter to include some serious offences in the FIRs.

The “communication” had meant to be a last resort for the State to retain the investigation with the State police, but the court refused to even take note of the letter. The Bihar government then pleaded with the court to give it a week’s time to file a status report before transferring the case to the CBI.

“When do you want to give the status report? Take one or two months, but we will transfer the investigation to the CBI today,” Justice Lokur snubbed the State’s plea.

The CBI, however, seemed reluctant initially to take up the investigation into the 17 shelter homes. Acting CBI Director, M. Nageshwar Rao, through the agency counsel, informed the Bench about a bar imposed on him by the Supreme Court to not take any major or policy decisions.

Rao was earlier ordered by the Supreme Court to restrict his official decisions to only routine tasks until the cloud over the removal of his former boss, exiled CBI chief Alok Verma, was cleared by the court.

“So, all investigations should stop then? What is this? That bar has nothing to do with this case” Justice Lokur reacted, asking CBI counsel to ring up Mr. Rao and get his confirmation over phone about taking up the probe into the 17 homes.

The agency counsel was back shortly and conveyed  Rao’s “in-principle” agreement to conduct the probe.

The court directed the Bihar government to fulfill any request from the CBI team for additional manpower or infrastructure. It ordered that no officer in the team should be transferred during the pendency of the probe. The probe team would be led by senior CBI officer, A.K. Sharma. The court asked the CBI to file a status report in February on the progress of the investigation till January 31, 2019.

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