A non-governmental organisation named Seva Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti had run a shelter home in Muzaffarpur in Bihar. On social audit conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai in this institution, it was revealed that several incidents of repeated sexual abuse had happened there. TISS, then submitted the report in 2018 based on which the government registered an FIR against this NGO. 8 researchers had studied and submitted the report to the Bihar government. On discovery of these incidents, the girls who were subjected to the abuse were shifted and the sexual abuse was confirmed after medical examination. Also, another shocking incident is alleged to have happened that is, a girl who voiced against this in the institution was burned and buried.
It was alleged that the girls were put to sleep by giving them food having sleeping pills and men from outside the institution would come and rape them. The brutality of the events happened has incited rage and a wide range of protests from the public then. Brajesh Thakur, the owner of the institution, is the main accused and it was revealed by the inmates of the shelter home that it was with his knowledge, it all happened. He was charged with the cases of rape, criminal conspiracy and also the neglect of duty. Suo motu was initiated by the Supreme Court on 2nd August 2018.
On 20th January 2020, the accused were convicted by the SC in the Muzaffarpur case. The SC convicted 19 accused and one was acquitted from Muzaffarpur. The case will be considered for sentence and arguments related it on January 28. Brajesh Thakur, Shaista Praveen, Rama Shankar, DilipVerma, Vikash Kumar, Ravi Roshan, Indu Kumari, Manju Devi, NehaKumari, Chanda Devi, Meenu Devi, HemaMasihKiranKumari, Vijay Kumar Tiwari, Guddu Patel, Kishan Ram, RamanujThakr, Ashwini and Rozy Rani were the ones who were convicted. One among the accused, Vicky was acquitted.
Brajesh Thakur was charged of rape, aggravated sexual assault and gang-rape under the provisions of the Prevention of Children against Sexual Offence Act along with the offences under the Indian Penal Code and the Juvenile Justice Act. It was alleged that he would bring the girls and even to hotels where they get raped. Additional Sessions Judge SaurabhKulsheshthra was the judge who ruled the judgement. The CBI had issued charge sheet on March 30, 2019. They were also charged for administering drugs to the girls too.
The case was earlier transferred to Delhi by the Supreme Court on February 12th, 2019.
QUESTION OF LAW
Under the POCSO Act, the case falls under the category of aggravated sexual assault. “Aggravated Sexual Assault” includes cases where the offender is the relative of the child, or if the assault injures the sexual organs of the child among others. The Bill also has added two more cases into the definition of aggravated sexual assault. Assault committed during a natural calamity and the administering or help to administer any hormone or any chemical substance, to a child for the purpose of attaining early sexual maturity.
The possible punishment for the case would be five to fifteen years of imprisonment. Here, if the victim is 16 or under 16 years of age, the minimum sentence will be range to even 20 or 25 years. Under certain circumstances, the punishment can also take the form of life imprisonment, considering the gravity of the case.
The sentence will be pronounced on January 28th.
The case is really shocking and brutal in nature. Definitely, the judgement in the case should prove to be an example discouraging this kind of actions from the part of institutions. Also, strict policies and guidelines have to be written down to serve as criteria for the functioning of such NGOs. Of course, Non-Governmental Organisations dealing with genuine cause need to be brought but while doing so, we should not forget the other side of such institutions. The criteria for starting such institutions must be strict and there must be agencies appointed to regularly check the functioning of these institutions.
Also, considering the rise in the number of rape cases in the country and the brutality of the Muzaffarpur case, the SC is expected to grant these convicted the utmost of punishment possible.