New Delhi, Jan 20, 2020: A POCSO court has convicted 19 persons, including the main accused Brajesh Thakur in the Muzzafarpur shelter home case January. Additional Sessions Judge Saurabh Kulshreshtha convicted the Thakur under multiple counts of aggravated penetrative sexual assault and gangrape.
The shelter home was run by Thakur, former MLA of Bihar People’s Party (BPP). The accused included 12 men and eight women.
The accused people broke down before the judge right after the verdict was announced. They told the judge that they did not touch anyone inside the shelter home, some women buried their heads and sobbed.
Additional Sessions Judge Saurabh Kulshreshtha has set January 28 to hear the arguments on quantum of sentence.
The case had come to light after a report submitted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to the Bihar government on May 26, 2018, claimed that some minor girls at the shelter house were being sexually abused.
In a twist to the shelter home abuse case, the CBI, earlier in January 2020, told the Supreme Court there was no evidence that any inmate had been murdered, as was alleged earlier. The agency said all the 35 girls had been traced and found to be alive.
"When the probe agency went to the spot where the alleged bodies were buried, two skeleton parts were recovered. On forensic investigation of the skeleton parts it was found to be of a woman and a man, and the possibility of the murder of minor was ruled out," said Attorney General K K Venugopal, who was appearing for the CBI.
He added that when experts of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) again spoke to the girls who had given the statement, the allegation of murder of minors was found to be false.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by Bihar resident Nivedita Jha.
Meanwhile, Advocate Shoeb Alam, who was appearing for the petitioner Nivedita Jha, said, "Merely because all the girls were found, does not rule the possibility that no murder has taken place. The probe agency should look into the allegations".
The case was transferred on February 7 from a local court in Muzaffarpur in Bihar to a POCSO court at Saket district court complex in Delhi on the Supreme Court’s directions.
In November 2018, the CBI had arrested Shaista Parveen, an alleged close accomplice of Mr. Thakur, on charges of facilitating sexual abuse. During the trial, counsel for the CBI told the court that the statements of minor girls, who were allegedly sexually assaulted, point to the fact that there was enough evidence against all the accused and they should be convicted.
On May 29 last year the state government shifted the girls from the shelter home to other protection homes. In May 31, 2018, FIR was lodged against the 11 accused in the case.