The Muzaffarpur shelter home case, ”Every time I read this file, I find it tragic. My hair stands on its ends,”: Justice Gupta

Supreme Court finds the Bihar police were lagging in their probe.”Every time I read this file, I find it tragic. My hair stands on its ends,” says Justice Gupta.

The CBI may take over the investigation into cases of abuse and aggravated sexual attacks on inmates of 17 shelter homes, nine of them housing children, after the Supreme Court on Tuesday found the Bihar police lagging in their probe.

The 11 FIRs registered by the State police did not contain serious offences or provided a true picture of the horrors perpetrated on the inmates, including children the court said.

“If a person is dead, the FIR filed is that of a case of ‘simple hurt’. Is this acceptable? A child is sodomised and theBihr government is saying it will file FIR after a week? The truth is not coming out,” a visibly angry Justice Madan B. Lokur addressed the Bihar Chief Secretary, who had been summoned in the previous hearing.

Justice Deepak Gupta said, “Every time I read this file, I find it tragic. My hair stands on its ends… yet this is the attitude of the Bihar government.”

Justice Abdul S. Nazeer said the State government’s assurances to the court that it would set everything right in the case and make amends in the FIRs seemed hollow. “They do not evoke confidence,” he addressed the Bihar government side.

‘Last serious offences put in FIRs’

Justice Gupta said usually the tendency of the police while registering FIRs was to include the most serious offences. “Here it is otherwise. The least serious offences have been put in these FIRs,” he pointed out.

Justice Lokur said the TISS report on the abuses in shelter homes in the state  came in May, but it was only now that the Bihar government had set its eyes on it. It was a survey team from the TISS (Tata Institute of Social Sciences) that brought to light the abuses and torture suffered by children in the Muzaffarpur shelter home run by an NGO.

The TISS had categoried the 17 shelter homes presently under the apex court scanner as ‘homes of grave concern’. While nine pertain to children, eight house beggars, destitutes and senior citizens.

The court gave a red-faced Bihar government 24 hours to show reasons why the probe into all the 17 homes should not be taken over by the CBI from the State police. The Muzaffarpur shelter home case is already under CBI investigation.

An affidavit filed by the Bihar government shows that as on November 1, 86 child care institutions (CCIs) in the State are run under the purview of the Social Welfare Department. These include 22 children’s homes for boys, 11 children’s homes for girls, nine open shelters and 28 specialised adoption agencies for children in need of care and protection. There is one children’s home for boys and girls each in Patna and another in Begusarai. All other homes in the State are being run through NGOs.

There are 14 observation homes, one place of safety and one special home run directly by the government.

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