New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the CBI to take over the probe into allegations of physical and sexual abuse of inmates at the 17 shelter homes in Bihar. The agency is already investigating the Muzaffarpur shelter home case, in which it is expected to file a charge sheet by December 7

A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur transferred the investigation, being conducted by Bihar police, to the CBI while dismissing the state government’s request to not transfer the probe. The apex court said the report of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) raises grave concern about 17 shelter homes in Bihar and CBI must look into all of them.

The CBI told the bench, also comprising Justice S A Nazeer and Justice Deepak Gupta, that in principle, it was ready to take over the investigation. The apex court also said CBI officers probing the shelter home cases in Bihar shall not be transferred without its prior permission.

The apex court on Tuesday pulled up the Bihar government for its approach towards investigation and failure to file a correct First Information Report (FIR) in the alleged rape of girls at the Muzaffarpur shelter home. The court had given a period of 24 hours to the Bihar Police to rectify the FIR and add charges under Section 377 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and sections under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) in it.

A petitioner in the case had informed the court that the Bihar government had been “soft” on the accused. “A staff member is involved in sexual abuse and physical violence of girls. It was an offence under Section 377 of the IPC and the POCSO Act and they (police) has registered a case under minor charges,” the petitioner had added.

“We were told that matter will be looked with great seriousness, this is seriousness? This is the attitude of Bihar. An FIR has to be lodged. If you don’t lodge an FIR in this serious case, how will you investigate it? That’s the attitude of the state. What are you (Bihar government) doing? It is really shameful. If the child is sodomised you say it’s nothing? How can you do this? It’s inhuman,” had said the Supreme Court.

The court had asked Special Public Prosecutor of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), who was present in the court, to take instructions from the agency and inform it by Wednesday if the CBI can investigate the cases relating to sexual assault in nine out of 17 shelter homes in Bihar named in the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) report.

More than 40 minor girls were allegedly sexually assaulted over a period of time in the shelter home which was run by Thakur’s state-funded non-governmental organisation (NGO).

Subsequently, the NGO was blacklisted and the girls were shifted to other shelter homes in Patna and Madhubani. The case came to the fore following an audit report filed by the TISS.