New Delhi, Nov 27 (IANS) The Supreme court on Tuesday slammed the Bihar government for being “very selective” in taking action against those accused of being involved in the sexual and other abuses of children and indicated that it would hand over to the CBI investigation into all the cases of child abuse in the shelter homes of the state.
“Your state has been very selective…catch this and leave others,” said the bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Deepak Gupta in the course of hearing of Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case.
Asking the counsel for Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to take instruction on taking over the investigation into nine cases of child abuse at shelter homes in Bihar, Justice Lokur told the counsel for Bihar government: “Let CBI do it. Your police…sorry, can’t arrest people, can’t file charge-sheet.”
The court vent its ire and said that all the cases would go to the CBI after it was told that of the nine cases, where the Chief Secretary has expressed “grave concern”, FIR has been filed in only five cases.
The Chief Secretary was present in the court pursuant to October 12 direction of the court.
Pointing to the “widespread mismanagement” of the shelter homes for children, the top court by its October 12 order had directed for the presence of the Chief Secretary to explain what remedial steps were being taken and the effect of those steps.
Apparently miffed over the manner in which cases of “grave concern” are being selectively dealt with, Justice Lokur said: “What is the nature of grave concern…definition of grave concern? How you understand this? Tell us, we will also understand.”
As the counsel for Bihar government Gopal Singh told the bench that in the remaining four cases, it may not constitute an offence, without mincing words, Justice Lokur told the Chief Secretary to know what was happening in the state administration under him.
Justice Gupta cited sections 323, 325, 406, 407 of the Indian Penal Code and the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) that were attracted in all the cases of children abuse at shelter homes in Bihar.
Justice Gupta wondered how the offences attracting stringent provisions of criminal law were apparently overlooked and the accused were booked for lesser offences.
The counsel for CBI, which is investigating the Muzaffarpur shelter home child abuse cases, told the court: “There could not be more heinous crime. Some children in shelter homes are being developed as trained soldiers who are used to punish other children not obeying the dictates of the caretakers of shelter homes.”
He cited the instance of a child who happened to be good cook but his face was gashed with three-inch wound after he refused to cook food for those running the shelter home.
Peeved over the way things were happening in the shelter homes in Bihar, Justice Lokur said: “We expect standards of reasonable person and not higher standards. We don’t know what your standards are.”
The matter is listed for hearing on Wednesday when CBI will tell the court on taking up rest of the shelter home child abuse cases in Bihar.
Another counsel Shekhar Naphade said: “There is much more to it than meets the eye.”