SC slams Bihar for funding NGOs involved in sexual abuse
Supreme Court also asked the centre to apprise it of the steps being taken to prevent sexual abuse of minors in shelter homes across the country
Expressing concern over the spurt in rape cases, the Supreme Court on Tuesday came down heavily on the Bihar government for misusing taxpayers' money to fund NGOs like the Muzaffarpur shelter home whose head has been arrested on the charge raping the inmates.
The apex court also asked the centre to apprise it of the steps being taken to prevent sexual abuse of minors in shelter homes across the country.
"What's happening in all these institutions funded by the government? People are paying taxes. People's money is going into funding these kinds of activities... it's state-financed activity. Money has been given to these NGOs without looking into their credentials," a bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice K.M. Joseph remarked.
"What's to be done? Girls getting raped left, right and centre," the Bench noted while citing the 2016 National Crime Research Bureau data available on the Internet. According to the data, 38,947 rapes were reported in 2016.
In Madhya Pradesh, girls are being sold openly for prostitution and the state leads in the number of rapes, followed by Uttar Pradesh, the court added.
Slamming the Bihar government for funding NGOs involved in sexual abuse cases, the top court questioned how the state could do this without knowing their credentials.
As the bench asked the Bihar government since when the state was providing funds to these NGOs, it was told "since 2014."
"For at least 3-4 years, the Bihar government is giving them money without purpose. Doesn't the law require to check?"
The court has taken suo motu cognisance of the Muzaffarpur shelter home rapes after a Patna resident wrote to the court. The CBI is probing the case.
The court also imposed a blanket ban on the publication of images of victims of sexual offences even by putting black bars on part of face/blurred form on the electronic, print and social media.
It said there would not be any interview of minor survivors of sexual abuse, saying it has serious mental impact.
The court said that such survivors can only be interviewed by members of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights in the presence of counsellors.
The apex court also directed that while the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences will look into the mental and physiatrist requirements of these children, the All India Institute of Medical Science in Patna will look into their clinical requirements and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) will take care of their social rehabilitation.
It asked the Bihar government to take action against the wife of one of the accused for disclosing the names of minor rape victims on her Facebook page.
The court suggested that proper monitoring of NGO-run shelter homes must be done on a daily basis and CCTVs be installed to prevent recurrence of incidents like the Muzaffarpur shelter home rapes.
The apex court was told that the Muzaffarpur-based NGO was not the only one facing allegations of rape and that a social audit by TISS had flagged "grave concern" over 15 such state-funded institutions in Bihar out of 110.
Nine of the 15 NGOs have been flagged for sexual abuse, the bench was told.
At this, the bench said: "It's not about this one incident which is horrible. It's happening everyday, you must go down to the grass-roots level."
The Bihar government counsel told the court that of the 15 NGOs, FIRs have been registered against nine, and that all accused have been arrested except one absconding. Some officers were suspended and are facing action, the court was told.
The counsel said the state government will file a detailed affidavit in a week on the compensation, social rehabilitation, and counselling of raped children who have been shifted to government shelter homes.
When the Delhi Commission for Women wanted to file an intervention application, the bench slammed it for interfering and said it doesn't want any politics in the matter.
"The DCW has no concern with this (case) and there is absolutely no politics in it," the Supreme Court said.
The Muzaffarpur rapes came to light when the Bihar Social Welfare Department filed an FIR based on the TISS social audit.
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