Muzaffarpur Shelter Home: State of Bihar to take steps to reunite 8 girls with their families
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Muzaffarpur Shelter Home: State of Bihar to take steps to reunite 8 girls with their families

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today directed the State of Bihar to take steps to reunite eight out of the forty-four girls from the Muzaffarpur shelter home whose cases were found to be fit for such rehabilitation by Tata Institute of Social Sciences’ (TISS) Koshish project.

The Bench of Justices NV Ramana, Mohan M Shanatanagoudar and Ajay Rastogi also directed the State of Bihar to take steps to initiate the process of disbursing compensation to the girls under relevant schemes.

The Court also took on record that the State of Bihar has readily agreed to provide financial, educational and medical assistance – including psychiatric help –  to the girls.

Last year, a social audit conducted by a team from the (TISS) had unearthed mass sexual exploitation among minor inmates of stay homes and shelters in Bihar.

Among them, close to 30 minor girls in a Muzaffarpur shelter home were reported to have suffered sexual abuse. An FIR had been registered based on the TISS report in May.

TISS was allowed by the Supreme Court to interact with the children and their families to ascertain if they could be rehabilitated and to understand the implications of reuniting them with their families. In its status report, the TISS team had told the Court that eight girls were fit to rejoin their families. Of these, while some children have special needs, some of them could be assimilated in their extended families.

The State of Bihar had filed an application in the case concerning the Muzaffarpur shelter home seeking the Court’s nod for finishing the process of rehabilitating forty-four girls. These girls are lodged at different childcare facilities at present.

After the horrific instance of sexual abuse at the Muzaffarpur shelter homes had come to light last year, the Supreme Court had taken suo motu cognizance of the same. Over the course of time, the investigation in the criminal cases was transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the agency was directed by the Court to widen the scope of the investigation.

Aspects of murder, offences under Section 377 and those under the Information Technology Act for making video recordings of the assault on the children must also be probed, the Court had told the CBI. The possibility of any outside influence and political clout must also be looked into, the agency was told. The trial in the case was transferred out of Bihar to a POCSO Court in Delhi’s Saket Court where a trial against 21 accused persons is going on.

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