The Supreme Court on Thursday transferred the trial in the Muzaffarpur shelter home case to Delhi and directed the trial court judge to hold day-to-day hearings and wrap it up in six months.
Transferring the case, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said: "No one can go unpunished, but that is not the end of it."
A bench of CJI Gogoi, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjiv Khanna transferred the trial to Delhi even as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) lawyer told the court that the case had already been shifted from Muzaffarpur to Patna.
The court was told that the charge-sheet in the case was filed in December 2018 and there are 21 witnesses in the case.
In the beginning, the hearing saw CJI Gogoi asking the lawyer appearing for the Bihar government to give the details of the number of inmates and staff in the shelter homes in the state, the money spent on their management and so on.
When the lawyer was not able to respond to the queries, the CJI said: "We want the presence of a person who is conversant with the matter. You are running the government. How you are running the government in accordance with law? We want all the answers."
"Enough is enough. Children cannot be treated like this. They can't be treated like this. Spare the children," the CJI told the lawyer, telling him that either he should respond to the queries or the Chief Secretary would be called.
Giving the lawyer time till 2 p.m to come prepared with the answers to the posers from the bench, the CJI threatened to summon the Bihar Chief Secretary to answer the questions. CJI Gogoi made it clear that the court may not limit itself to the answers to the question raised by it but may even expand them.
The court also took exception to the transfer of head of the investigating team probing the shelter home cases, asking if the authorities concerned were aware of the Supreme Court order on not shifting him without its permission. For this, too, the court posted the matter to 2 p.m.
Several girls and inmates were allegedly raped and sexually abused in the Muzaffarpur shelter home in a study conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in May last year.
Later in the day, the court transferred the hearing on the rest of the shelter home to the social justice bench which is examining the condition of shelter homes for children across the country.
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