New Delhi: In a significant development, a Delhi court on Tuesday awarded life term to convict Brajesh Thakur in connection with the sexual assault of over 40 girls at 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 had, on January 20, convicted Brajesh Thakur along with 18 others in the matter.

Thakur, was held guilty under Section 376 (rape), 376D (gangrape), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 324 (causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 120B (criminal conspiracy), and 109 (abetment) of the Indian Penal Code. He was also found guilty under Section 6 and 17 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and Section 75 of Juvenile Justice Act. The court, however, acquitted one accused.

What is the case?

Over 40 girls were allegedly raped at the center run by Brajesh Thakur, who is a former legislator and owner of the NGO called Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti. The alleged sexual exploitation of the girls was first highlighted on May 26, 2018 in an audit report submitted by the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), Mumbai, to the state’s social welfare department.

A brief chronology of the case

Following the audit report, an FIR was lodged against 11 people, including Thakur on May 31, 2018. Thakur was the prime accused in the case while others were employees of his shelter home and Bihar Social Welfare Department officials.

The case was then transferred from Bihar Police to the CBI in July 2018. The court had on March 20, 2019, framed charges against the accused for offences of criminal conspiracy to commit rape and penetrative sexual assault against minors.

The case was, however, transferred from a local court in Muzaffarpur to the POCSO court at Saket here last year on the Supreme Court’s directions.

The Supreme Court ordered the judge to complete it within six months, following which the trial court framed charges against 20 accused in the case.