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Muzaffarpur shelter home case: Delhi court sentences Brajesh Thakur, 11 others to life imprisonment

PTI New Delhi | Updated on February 11, 2020 Published on February 11, 2020

Horror house: The shelter home in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, where several minior girls were sexually assaulted.   -  Ranjeet Kumar

Tata Institute of Social Sciences submitted a report to the Bihar government in May 2019 highlighting the alleged sexual abuse of girls in the shelter home.

A Delhi court Tuesday sentenced Brajesh Thakur to imprisonment till his last breath for sexually and physically assaulting several girls in a shelter home in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district.

Additional Sessions Judge Saurabh Kulshreshtha also sent 11 others to jail for life in the case.

The court on January 20 convicted Thakur, who once unsuccessfully contested assembly polls on Bihar People’s Party (BPP) ticket, of several offences including aggravated penetrative sexual assault under section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, and offences of rape and gang rape under the Indian Penal code (IPC).

In its 1,546 page judgment, the court had also convicted Thakur of offences under Indian Penal Code sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 324 (causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and those relating to abetment, Section 21 (failure to report commission of an offence) of the POCSO Act and Section 75 (cruelty to child) of the Juvenile Justice Act.

 

The CBI on February 4 sought life imprisonment “till the remainder of life” for Thakur, saying “rape is a crime of lust and power” and leniency should not be shown to the convicts as the victims in the case were minors.

Public Prosecutor Amit Jindal had told the court that the five convicts -- Thakur, Dillip Kumar Verma, Ravi Roshan, Vikas Kumar, Vijay Kumar Tiwari -- who were convicted of the offences of aggravated penetrative sexual assault and rape should be sentenced to life imprisonment for remainder of life given the heinous nature of the crime they have committed.

Verma, child protection officer of District Child Protection Unit; Vikas, member of Child Welfare Committee; Guddu Patel, Kishan Kumar and Ramanuj Thakur were held guilty of the offences of aggravated penetrative sexual assault under the POCSO Act, criminal conspiracy, rape, gang rape, causing hurt, abetment to rape under the IPC and the POCSO Act, and section 75 of the JJ Act.

Two of the accused -- Rama Shankar Singh and Ashwani -- were convicted of the offences of criminal conspiracy and abetment to rape.

Besides, women accused -- Shaista Praveen, Indu Kumari, Minu Devi, Manju Devi, Chanda Devi, Neha Kumari, Hema Masih, Kiran Kumari -- were held guilty of criminal conspiracy, abetment to rape, cruelty to child and failure to report the commission of an offence.

Advocate Dheeraj Kumar, appearing for some of the convicts, had said they would challenge the judgment in the higher court.

Former Bihar Social Welfare Minister and the then JD(U) leader Manju Verma also faced flak when allegations surfaced that the husband had links with Brajesh Thakur.

She resigned from her post on August 8, 2018.

The case was transferred on February 7, 2019 from a local court in Muzaffarpur in Bihar to a POCSO court at Saket district court complex in Delhi on the apex court’s directions.

The matter had come to light on May 26, 2018 after Tata Institute of Social Sciences submitted a report to the Bihar government highlighting the alleged sexual abuse of girls in the shelter home for the first time.

Chronology of events

* May 26: TISS report forwarded to Director of Bihar’s Social Welfare department.

* May 29: Bihar government shifts girls from shelter home to other protection homes.

* May 31: SIT formed to investigate; FIR lodged against 11 accused including Brajesh Thakur.

* Jun 14: Bihar’s Women and Child Development ministry seals Muzaffarpur shelter home, rescues 46 minor girls.

* Aug 1: Bihar Governor Satya Pal Malik writes to Chief Justice of Patna High court, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to monitor shelter homes across the state, suggests formation of fast-track courts for immediate disposal of sexual abuse cases.

* Aug 2: SC takes cognisance; seeks responses from both central and Bihar governments.

* Aug 5: Bihar Governor Satyapal Malik suspends six Assistant Director of State Welfare Department for negligence in duty and delay in taking action after TISS report.

* Aug 7: SC asks print, electronic, social media not to publish in any form pics of victims of sexual abuse.

* Aug 8: Minister of Social Welfare in Bihar Manju Verma resigns in wake of scandal.

* Sep 20: SC says no blanket ban on media reporting in the Muzaffarpur shelter home case.

* Oct 4: CBI informs SC they recovered skeleton of girl from shelter home.

* Nov 28: SC transfers 16 Bihar shelter home abuse cases to CBI.

* Feb 7, 2019: SC orders case be transferred from Bihar to POCSO court at Saket district court complex in Delhi.

* Feb 25: Trial starts in district court.

* Mar 2: CBI tells court several victims testified against Brajesh Thakur.

* Mar 6: Bihar Child Welfare Committee (CWC) claims not enough evidence against them.

* Mar 30: Trial court frames charges against 21 accused.

* May 3: 11 girls allegedly murdered by Brajesh Thakur, others, CBI tells SC.

* May 6: SC directs CBI to complete probe on alleged murders by June 3.

* Jun 3: SC grants 3 months time to CBI to complete probe.

* Sep 12: SC allows 8 girls to reunite with families; asks Bihar to give assistance.

* Sep 30: Trial court reserves order.

* Nov 14: Judgement deferred due to lawyers’ strike.

* Dec 12: Judgement again deferred as the judge who had conducted the trial was on leave.

* Jan 8, 2020: No evidence of children’s murder in Muzaffarpur shelter home case, CBI tells SC.

* Jan 20: Court convicts Thakur and 18 others, fixes Jan 28 for arguments on quantum of sentence.

* Jan 28: Court defers hearing on quantum of sentence as judge who had conducted the trial was on leave.

* Feb 4: Delhi court reserves order on quantum of sentence.

* Feb 11: Courts sentences Thakur and 11 others to life imprisonment.

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Published on February 11, 2020
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