The Delhi High Court Thursday sought CBI's reply on a plea by a convict, a member of Child Welfare Committee, challenging his life imprisonment in the sexual assault case of several girls in a shelter home in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district. A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar issued notice to the CBI on the appeal filed by Vikas Kumar.
The court listed it for hearing on October 1, along with appeals of other convicts -- Brajesh Thakur and Dilip Kumar Verma, both sentenced to imprisonment for the remainder of life by the trial court in the case. Verma and Thakur, who once unsuccessfully contested assembly polls on Bihar People's Party (BPP) ticket, have appealed against the trial court verdict sentencing them to life imprisonment in the case.
Thakur, represented through advocate Pramod Kumar Dubey, has also sought suspension of Rs 32.20 lakh fine imposed on him. The CBI has opposed Thakur’s plea for suspension of fine amount saying no prejudice will be caused to himby imposition of fine as he has been convicted on multiple counts of aggravated penetrative sexual assault, conspiracy, abetment and sentenced to life imprisonment.
The high court had earlier issued notice to the CBI on the appeals seeking to set aside trial court’s January 20 judgment convicting him in the case and February 11 sentencing order. A trial court here had sentenced Thakur to "rigorous imprisonment till remainder of his life" and imposed a hefty fine of Rs 32.20 lakh on him, saying he was the "kingpin" of a "meticulously planned" conspiracy and "displayed extreme perversity".
The trial court on January 20, had convicted Thakur of several offences including aggravated penetrative sexual assault under section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, and offences of rape and gang rape under the Indian Penal code (IPC).
Besides Brajesh Thakur, Dilip Verma and Vikas Kumar, it had sentenced Child protection officer of District Child Protection Unit Ravi Roshan, Guddu Vijay, Kumar Tiwari, Guddu Patel, Kishan Kumar and Ramanuj Thakur to imprisonment for remainder of life in the case.
It had also send three women -- Minu Devi, Kiran Kumari and Shaista Praveen -- to jail for life for abetment to rape. The trial court had sentenced Rama Shankar, Ashwani, Manju Devi, Chanda Devi, Neha Kumari and Hema Masih to 10 years in prison, and Indu Kumari to three years jail term. It had imposed varying fines on the convicts.
It had also granted a compensation of Rs 5.50 lakh to three of the rape victims; Rs 6 lakh to one of the victims, Rs 9 lakh to another victim, Rs 40,000 each to two of the victims and Rs 25,000 to another victim.
Former Bihar Social Welfare Minister and the then JD(U) leader Manju Verma had also faced flak when allegations surfaced that her husband had links with Brajesh Thakur. She resigned from her post on August 8, 2018. The case was transferred on February 7, 2019 from a local court in Muzaffarpur in Bihar to a POCSO court at Saket district court complex in Delhi on the Supreme Court's directions.
The matter had come to light on May 26, 2018 after Tata Institute of Social Sciences submitted a report to the Bihar government highlighting the alleged sexual abuse of girls in the shelter home for the first time.