The Supreme Court Wednesday directed the CBI to take over the probe into allegations of physical and sexual abuse of inmates at 16 shelter homes in Bihar.
A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur transferred the investigation being conducted by Bihar Police to the CBI, and dismissed the state government's request not to do so.
The apex court said that the report of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) raises grave concern about 17 shelter homes in Bihar and the CBI must look into all of them. Of these, the Muzaffarpur case is already being looked into by the CBI.
CBI told the bench, also comprising justices S A Nazeer and Deepak Gupta, that in principle it was ready to take over the investigation.
The agency is already investigating the Muzaffarpur shelter home case in which it is expected to file a charge sheet by December 7, the court was told.
The apex court also said that CBI officers probing the shelter home cases in Bihar will not be transferred without its prior permission.
The top court had yesterday termed as "very shameful" and "inhuman" the conduct of Bihar government in not taking appropriate action following the allegations of physical and sexual abuse of children at several shelter homes and had favoured a CBI investigation in these matters.
The court had said that the state was "very soft" and "very selective" in registering FIRs against the perpetrators and had asked the Bihar government whether these children were not the citizens of this country.
The apex court had also asked the counsel appearing for the Bihar government as to why FIRs have not been lodged under section 377 (unnatural offences) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) despite the allegations that children were sodomised at the shelter homes.
The counsel appearing for Bihar had assured the court that state would take all appropriate action in the matter and said they would rectify all the mistakes.
Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade and lawyer Fauzia Shakil, representing the petitioner who has sought lodging of FIRs and court-monitored probe by an independent agency into alleged physical and sexual abuse of inmates in 14 shelter homes in Bihar, had claimed that the state was going "soft" in these cases and FIRs have been lodged under less heinous offences.
Naphade had referred to the report of TISS and said that offence under section 377 of IPC was made out as several children were sodomised in the shelter homes.
The court had also said it was "unfortunate" that despite the report by TISS indicating financial irregularities in some of the shelter homes, no FIR has been lodged regarding this.
Later, the bench was of the view that CBI should probe all these matters because if the state police continued with the investigation, the truth would never come out.
The court had also said that as per TISS report, there were 17 shelter homes where the allegations were of grave nature.
The bench, after perusing the affidavit filed by state, had asked why FIRs were lodged in matters relating to five child care institutions only when there were nine such institutions.
The bench had said that as per the report, one of the girls in these shelter homes lost her mental balance as she was not allowed to talk to her parents over phone.
The CBI's counsel, while referring to the horrific crimes committed in the shelter home in Muzaffarpur, had said these were "offences against the mankind".
He had also said that investigation in the Muzaffarpur case was going on and they would file a charge sheet within a week before the competent court.
In the Muzaffarpur shelter home case, an FIR was lodged on May 31 against 11 people following the TISS report.
The probe was later taken over by the CBI and so far, 17 people have been arrested.