The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered transfer of the Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual assault case from a court in Bihar to a New Delhi court, saying "enough is enough" and children cannot be treated like this.
The apex court came down heavily on the Bihar government for its management of 16 shelter homes in the state, other than that at Muzaffarpur, and warned that unsatisfactory response of its queries will force it to summon the chief secretary.
It has ordered conclusion of the trial in the sexual assault case within six months.
Several girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused at an NGO-run shelter home in Muzaffarpur and the issue had come to light following a report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi took a grim view of the of the progress made in the trial of the Muzaffarpur sexual assault case and said it will now be transferred to a Protection of Children from Sexual Offences or POCSO court at Saket district court complex in New Delhi.
The bench, which also comprised justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, directed the Bihar government to render all assistance in smooth transfer of the case and its records within two weeks from today.
Earlier the apex court had directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to take over the probe into allegations of physical and sexual abuse of inmates at 16 shelter homes in Bihar, besides transferring of the Muzaffarpur sexual assault case.
At the outset, the bench Thursday asked questions about the number of shelter homes, their management and the role of the government in running them.
On being dissatisfied with the answers of the counsel representing the state, the bench said, "we will not ask you to file an affidavit. Affidavit means two weeks time. Answer the question one to one".
"We are asking you (lawyer) some questions. If you are in a position to answer, then answer, otherwise we will call your chief secretary or the officer who is conversant with the facts. By 3 pm your chief secretary will be here. In any case Patna is well connected," the bench said.
"Enough is enough. Children cannot be treated like this. You cannot let your officers to treat children this way. Spare the children," the top court told the Bihar government.
The bench also expressed its anger after it was informed the CBI officer who was probing the sexual assault case has been transferred.
The top court rapped the CBI for transferring its officer probing the Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual assault case.
"The transfer amounts to violation of our order," the bench said, asking the CBI to file an affidavit.
The bench has posted the matter at 2 pm and asked the counsel for the Bihar government to be ready with the facts and figures pertaining to shelter homes in the state.
The top court had transferred the investigation being conducted by the Bihar Police to the CBI, and dismissed the state government's request of not to do so.
On the TISS report, the apex court had said it raises grave concern about 17 shelter homes in Bihar and the CBI must look into all of them. Of these, the Muzaffarpur case is already being looked into by the CBI.
In the Muzaffarpur shelter home case, an FIR was lodged on May 31, 2018 against 11 people following the TISS report.
The probe was later taken over by the CBI and so far, 17 people have been arrested.