The Supreme Court Tuesday stayed a Patna High Court order asking the CBI special director to set up a fresh team to probe Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual abuse case.
The Patna High Court had on August 29 ordered that a fresh team of investigators be constituted by the Special Director of CBI in the case in which incidents of alleged rape and sexual assault of women inmates over a period of time had come to light in an NGO-run shelter home at Muzaffarpur.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said changing the CBI team at this stage will be detrimental to the ongoing investigation.
It asked the Patna High Court to adjourn the matter pending before it until further orders.
Attorney General K K Venugopal told the court that the existing probe team carrying out the investigation was set up by the CBI director on July 30.
“We don’t see any reason why the existing CBI team, probing the Muzaffarpur shelter home case, should be changed at this stage,” the apex court said.
Over 30 girls were allegedly raped at the shelter home run by one Brajesh Thakur, the chief of a state-funded NGO. The alleged sexual exploitation of the girls was first highlighted in an audit report submitted by TISS to the state’s social welfare department.
The top court also asked the probe agency to place before it the two status reports of probe in the case which were filed earlier before the Patna High Court and listed the matter for further hearing on September 20.
An FIR was lodged against 11 people, including Thakur, on May 31. The probe was later taken over by the CBI.
The incidents of alleged rape and sexual assault of the women inmates had come to light after a social audit was conducted by the Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).
The Patna High Court, which has been monitoring the probe, had on August 23 expressed displeasure over the leak of details of the investigation and asked the media to refrain from publishing it as it could be detrimental to the probe.
A plea was filed against this on September 5 in the apex court seeking a stay on the high court order restraining the media from reporting the investigation.
In the plea filed before the apex court, the petitioner, a journalist, has claimed that there was no material before the high court to come to a conclusion that media reporting may hamper the ongoing investigation in the case.
In all, the sexual abuse of 34 of the 42 inmates was confirmed in their medical examination.
The TISS audit report had said that many girls at the shelter home had complained of sexual abuse. A special investigation team was formed to probe the complaints.
The NGO running the shelter home in Muzaffarpur was blacklisted and the girls were shifted to shelter homes in Patna and Madhubani. Women staff members of the shelter home and Thakur were among those who were arrested by the police in connection with the case.