The Supreme Court Monday directed the CBI to complete by June 3 its probe into the alleged murder of 11 girls at a shelter home in Bihar's Muzaffarpur and asked the agency to file a status report.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta said that since the matter was "urgent", it would be heard by a vacation bench on June 3.
"Office to list the matter on June 3 before the vacation bench of this court. In the meantime, the ongoing investigation, as stated in the reply of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), be completed and all necessary actions in accordance with law, including filing of status report before this court, be also completed," the bench said in its order.
The bench initially asked the CBI to complete the probe related to alleged 11 murders within two weeks keeping in view the urgency of the matter, but later asked it to do so by June 3.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for CBI, told the court that completion of probe on this aspect "will not be possible" within two weeks.
He said that 11 girls were supposed to have been murdered and as per CBI's recent affidavit filed in the apex court, it was found that there were a total of 35 girls with identical names who at one time or the other had stayed there.
"11 girls are supposed to have been murdered. In one case, we have recovered bones also," he told the bench.
In the affidavit, the CBI had told the court that 11 girls were allegedly murdered by key accused Brajesh Thakur and his accomplices and a "bundle of bones" was recovered from a burial ground in Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual abuse case.
Several girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused at an NGO-run shelter home at Muzaffarpur in Bihar and the issue had come to light following a report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).
The probe into the case was transferred to CBI and the agency has chargesheeted 21 people, including Thakur.
During the hearing on Monday, senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for the petitioner who has claimed that CBI has not done proper investigation in the case, said victims had given categorical statements to the agency about the murders.
The CBI has not yet completed its probe on this aspect despite the fact that three months have passed, Naphade said.
"In the light of the reply given by the CBI that they are investigating this and the moment they get something they will move the court, what do you suggest?," the apex court asked Naphade, who was appearing for the petitioner along with advocates Shoeb Alam and Fauzia Shakil.
To this, Naphade said, "Let CBI clarify in a short time whether these murder have taken place".
The bench then told Venugopal, "We will put it on May 20. You (CBI) get two weeks. You complete the investigation. It is an urgent matter therefore we are having it before a vacation bench".
After Venugopal said the probe on this aspect would take some time, the bench asked the CBI to file a status report on the ongoing investigation by June 3.
In its affidavit filed in the top court last week, the CBI has stated that from the statement of victims recorded during the probe, names of 11 girls have emerged, who were said to be allegedly murdered by Thakur and his accomplices.
"During investigation, from the statement of victims recorded by IOs (investigating officers) and NIMHANS (National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences) team, names of 11 girls emerged who were said to be allegedly murdered by the accused Brajesh Thakur and his accomplices," the CBI has said.
"Based on the facts revealed by one accused, namely Guddu Patel during his interrogation, a particular spot in burial ground as identified by accused Guddu Patel was excavated and a bundle of bones were recovered from the spot," the CBI said in the affidavit filed on an application which had alleged that it had not conducted a proper probe in the case.
The CBI has said they have carried out a "thorough, fair, impartial probe" in the case and the investigation regarding allegations of murder was carried out by them soon after revelations were made by the victims.
"On scrutiny of details of these 11 girls entered in the master register (of shelter home), it was found that there were a total of 35 girls with identical/similar names who at one time or the other stayed at Balika Grih, Muzaffarpur," it said, adding that "as per revelation made by the inmates before IOs, all the alleged burial grounds were excavated by local police/CBI".
The CBI has said that allegations regarding involvement of outsiders, who used to physically or sexually abuse the girls, have been properly investigated by them and accused have also been charge sheeted as per revelation made by victims.
The apex court in February transferred the case from Bihar to a Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) court in Saket District Court complex in Delhi.
On November 28 last year, the top court had directed the CBI to conduct probe into allegations of physical and sexual abuse of inmates in 16 other shelter homes in Bihar which were flagged in the TISS report.