Patna HC Pulls up Bihar Govt for Delaying Action in Shelter Home Abuse Case
Patna: The Patna High Court (HC) pulled up the Bihar government on Monday for its failure to take action after a former resident of a shelter home located in the state capital sought its intervention last week to lodge a first information report (FIR) against the alleged sexual exploitation of its residents. The court also sought the state government’s response on the action taken so far.
Last week, the court took suo motu cognisance of a viral video in which the former resident of Uttar Raksha Grih, located in Gaighat, had accused the shelter home’s superintendent Vandana Gupta of facilitating the sexual abuse of the residents.
According to the victim’s counsel Minu Kumari, Bihar’s advocate general Lalit Kishor informed the court that no action. “The court expressed surprise as to why the government has not taken action,” she told Newsclick. The next hearing is scheduled for February 11.
Kumari alleged that the state government apparently wants to save someone involved in the case by delaying action. “The victim had already registered her statement at the CJM Court and the social welfare department also recorded her statement at its office on Saturday.”
The victim’s hope for justice depends on the court’s next hearing, Kumari said adding, “now action will be taken on court’s order.”
The Opposition and women activists have demanded a high-level probe into the allegations. The Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Left have questioned chief minister Nitish Kumar’s silence on the controversy and targeted his government for not registering an FIR and giving Gupta a clean chit.
In the video, the former resident alleged that she and her fellow residents were sedated and sexually exploited in collusion with Gupta.
Women activists widely see the latest incident as a repetition of the infamous 2018 Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual abuse case. The case was brought to light after a 100-page report of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, made public following a Supreme Court order showed that sexual abuse was prevalent at almost all shelter homes in Bihar.
In 2017, the state government had commissioned an audit by the TISS, which submitted the report to the social welfare department in April 2018. Subsequently, the main accused, Brajesh Thakur, who managed the shelter home, was jailed along with nine others.
The probe also pointed fingers at then-state social welfare minister Manju Verma, who had to resign under pressure after media reports revealed that her husband and Thakur had spoken 17 times from January to June. Subsequently, the social welfare department decided to take over the administration of shelter homes in the states from NGOs.
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