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Setback for Nitish Kumar Govt as SC Transfers Probe Into 17 Shelter Homes to CBI

New Delhi: In a setback for the Nitish Kumar government, the Supreme Court on Wednesday transferred to the CBI investigations into 17 shelter homes in Bihar where minors complained of sexual abuses and misdemeanours.

A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur rejected the Bihar government’s request to give it some more time to show seriousness and progress in the investigations made so far by the state police.

“What are we supposed to do if the state does nothing? Just keep asking for status reports? Sorry,” said Justice Lokur.

In Muzaffarpur, the CBI is already investigating allegations of sexual assault on several children. The court order on Wednesday will enable the CBI to probe 16 additional shelter homes in the state, which were indicted in a social audit report by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).
The bench asked the CBI to take over the probe from Bihar police and submit their first status report by January 31, 2019. It also directed that no CBI officer probing the shelter home cases shall be transferred without permission from the court.

When the hearing began on Wednesday, CBI’s lawyer submitted that the agency may not be able to take up the additional cases on its own because another bench in the Supreme Court has restrained the interim CBI director from taking any major policy decision.

The bench, however, asked the lawyer to get instructions afresh since the investigation in this case have nothing to do with the restraining order. Five minutes later, the CBI lawyer showed up to say that the agency is willing to take over the probe. The bench then passed its order.

A day ago, the bench had called the state government’s attitude as “extremely unfortunate, tragic and shameless” when it came across reports to find that the police didn’t even care to file register FIRs properly despite children comparing of sodomy.

It had sought an affidavit from the state chief secretary, which the bench on Wednesday observed, was unsatisfactory and failed to address the concerns.

The court had also commented that if the probe were to be handed over to the CBI, it may not look good on the state.

| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai

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