SC sniffs wrongdoing in Bihar; says 'all is not well'; displeased at police for not arresting ex-min
"All is not well in Bihar", the Supreme Court said Wednesday and expressed displeasure over the failure of police in arresting former state minister Manju Verma -- who stepped down in the wake of the Muzaffarpur shelter home scandal -- in a case of recovery of "illegal ammunition" from her.
A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta, which had Tuesday pulled up the Bihar Police for not arresting the ex-minister, was informed by the state that Verma was in "hiding".
"All the not well in Bihar. A former minister has gone hiding and the state does not know where its former cabinet minister has gone after her (anticipatory) bail plea was rejected," the bench said while terming it as "strange".
Manju Verma had resigned as social welfare minister in Bihar government following the Muzaffarpur case, where several women at a shelter home were allegedly raped and sexually abused after it came to light that her husband Chandrashekhar Verma had spoken to prime accused Brajesh Thakur several times between January and June.
Her husband had surrendered before a Begusarai court in Bihar on Monday in connection with the case related to the recovery of ammunition.
The apex court was earlier informed that Manju Verma's anticipatory bail plea was dismissed by the Patna High Court on October 9.
During the hearing on Wednesday, the bench was also informed that the CBI team probing the Muzaffarpur shelter home case has not been changed.
Advocate Aparna Bhat, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the case, had Tuesday told the bench that she has got information that one of the members of CBI team probing the Muzaffarpur case has been changed despite court's specific direction that composition of the investigating team is not changed without the leave of court.
The court had also directed that Brajesh Thakur is shifted to Patiala high-security jail in Punjab from Bihar's Bhagalpur jail.
The order to shift Thakur out of Bihar was passed after the CBI had on October 25 told the court that he was an influential person and was found in possession of mobile phone inside the Bhagalpur jail.
On September 20, the court had said it had come on record that Chandrashekhar Verma and his wife were in "possession of illegal ammunition of a fairly large quantity". It was not clear whether they were in possession of illegal arms as well.
The court had observed that the CBI, in its status report filed earlier, had noted that an FIR has been lodged against Chandrashekhar and Manju Verma.
"The affairs of these two need to be looked into, particularly with regard to their procurement and possession of illegal ammunition and availability of illegal weapons, if any. We request the local police in the state of Bihar to look into this aspect with some degree of seriousness," the bench had said in its order.
Over 30 girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused at the shelter home in Muzaffarpur and the issue was first highlighted in an audit report submitted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to the state's social welfare department.
An FIR was lodged on May 31 against 11 people, including Thakur, who was running the shelter home.
The probe was later taken over by CBI and so far 17 people have been arrested.
The apex court had earlier termed as "horrible" and "scary" details placed before it by CBI about the investigation into the case.
(With inputs from agencies.)