India / Muzaffarpur shelter home rape cases: Court frames charges against all 21 accused

The New Indian Express : Mar 30, 2019, 06:20 PM

NEW DELHI: A Delhi court Saturday framed various charges, including criminal conspiracy to commit rape and penetrative sexual assault, against all accused persons in the Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual assault case.

Additional Sessions Judge Saurabh Kulshreshtha put 21 accused on trial, saying there was prima facie enough evidence against them. All the accused, who appeared before court, pleaded innocence.

Besides rape (376) and criminal conspiracy, the court also framed charges under various sections of the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act and other charges.

Brajesh Thakur, alleged mastermind and strongman in the case, was charged with serious charges under the POCSO Act, including Section 6 (aggravated sexual assault). Thakur and the employees of his shelter home, as well as Bihar department of social welfare officials, were charged with criminal conspiracy, neglect of duty, failure to report the assault on the girls.

The other 20 accused were charged with criminal conspiracy to commit rape and penetrative sexual assault against minors.

The offence carries punishment of minimum 10 years and maximum of life imprisonment.

The court will hold a trial for the offences of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, drugging of minors, criminal intimidation among other charges.

The charges also included offence of cruelty to child under their authority, punishable under the Juvenile Justice Act.

On February 7, the Supreme Court ordered authorities to transfer the case from Bihar to a Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) court in Saket District Court complex in Delhi, which would conclude the trial within six months by holding preferably day-to-day hearing.

Several girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused at an NGO-run shelter home in Muzaffarpur, Bihar.

The issue had come to light following a report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).