The Supreme Court today slammed the Nitish Kumar-led government in Bihar over allotment of public funds to NGOs running shelter homes in the state and their usage saying "money is being given without even verifying the credentials of the organisation".
"Government is giving money without knowing what is done of that money. You (Bihar) have been giving money without even verifying the credentials of that organisation. No one knows what they are doing and how they are utilising the funds," the bench said.
During the hearing, senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for Bihar, said the Muzaffarpur shelter home which was run by an NGO came into existence in 2013 and the social audit was conducted in 2017.
Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for TISS, said that such social audit is done by just talking to the staffs but not the inmates of shelter homes.
She said that TISS has conducted social audit of 110 welfare institutions across 38 districts in Bihar and the court can treat it as a benchmark for conducting audit of such establishments.
She said that out of the social audit of 110 welfare institutions which included adoption agency, short stay homes for women, old age homes, rehabilitation centres for destitute, children homes, observation homes, open shelter, home for children with mental retardation, 15 such homes were found to be under "grave concern".
Grover, who submitted the finding of the social audit in sealed cover, said that the audit report was released on May 26 by the department of Social Welfare.
The bench asked Kumar as what action has been taken against these 15 institutions flagged by TISS as under "grave concern".
He replied that nine FIRs have been lodged where allegations of sexual abuses were there.
"Out of these nine cases, one FIR which relates to Muzaffarpur shelter home the case has been transferred to CBI and arrest of all the accused except one has been effected," Kumar said.
He said that departmental actions has been taken against the remaining six institutions as the allegations were of minor offences.
Kumar said that he would like to file a detailed affidavit considering all aspects like rehabilitation, counselling, compensation to the victims, future course of action and the status of other such institutions.
He informed the court that even UNICEF is also helping in counselling and rehabilitation of the victims.
The apex court had take a suo moto cognisance of the Bihar incident after a letter was written by Patna-resident Ranvijay Kumar highlighting the issue of repeated interviews of the alleged victims of the Muzaffarpur shelter home being published and aired.
Over 30 girls were allegedly raped at the shelter home run by Brajesh Thakur, the chief of the state-funded NGO.
The alleged sexual exploitation of the girls was first highlighted in an audit report submitted by TISS to the state's social welfare department.
An FIR was lodged against 11 people, including Thakur, on May 31. The probe has now been taken over by the CBI.
In all, sexual abuse of 34 inmates out of 42 was confirmed in their medical examination.
The TISS audit report stated that many girls at the shelter home had complained of sexual abuse. A special investigation team was formed to probe the complaints.
Women staff members of the shelter home and Thakur were among those who were arrested by the police in connection with the case.
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