Published On: Tue, Oct 30th, 2018

SC pulls up Bihar govt for not arresting ex-minister Manju Verma, asks is she above law

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up Bihar Police for not arresting former state minister Manju Verma, who had stepped down in the wake of the Muzaffarpur shelter home scandal, in a case related to recovery of ammunition from her possession.

Supreme Court today pulled up Bihar Police for not arresting former state minister Manju Verma, who had stepped down in the wake of the Muzaffarpur shelter home scandal,

The top court said even after her anticipatory bail application was dismissed by the Patna High Court on October 9, the police has not been able to arrest her.

Her husband Chandrashekhar Verma had surrendered before a Begusarai court on Monday in connection with the arms case registered against him, the apex court was informed by the Bihar government.

The court also directed that Brajesh Thakur, the prime accused in the Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual abuse case, be shifted to the Patiala high security jail in Punjab from Bihar’s Bhagalpur jail.

The court passed the order to shift Thakur out of Bihar after the CBI had on October 25 said that he was an influential person and was found in possession of mobile phone inside the Bhagalpur jail.

A bench of justices M B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta said Thakur shall be kept under watch of the Superintendent of Police of Patiala.

“Brajesh Thakur be transferred to the prison in Patiala where he will be kept in watch by the Superintendent of Police. The movement of Brajesh Thakur should take place today or tomorrow on the outside,” the bench said.

It also refused to give time to Thakur for filing his reply to the show cause notice issued by the court on October 25 asking him to explain why he should not be transferred out of Bihar, saying, “We decline to give any time for filing a reply until he goes out of Bihar.”

Advocate Fauzia Shakil, appearing for petitioner Nivedita Jha, pointed out that Manju Verma has not been arrested yet in the Arms Act case lodged against her.

The bench asked senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for Bihar government, why the former cabinet minister was not arrested till now.

“Is she above the law? She might be an ex-minister but she is not above the law. Her anticipatory bail was rejected by the high court on October 9. Why she has not been arrested till now? What were you doing till now? You let us know the details,” the bench said.

Kumar said he needed some time to take instructions with regard to details of Manju Verma.

Advocate Aparna Bhat, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the case, said she has got information that one of the members of CBI team investigating the Muzaffarpur shelter home case has been changed.

The bench took serious note of the submission and asked CBI’s counsel as to how the composition of investigating team has been changed without the leave of court.

“We had anticipated these things that’s why we passed that order on October 25 that CBI team should not be changed, without prior permission of the court. By tomorrow, we want the names of members of the team which was on October 25 and which is today,” the bench said.

The bench posted the matter for further hearing Thursday.

On October 25, the apex court had asked the Bihar government and the CBI to explain why there was a delay in tracing whereabouts of Chandrashekhar Verma, who is wanted for alleged illegal possession of ammunition in large quantity.

Manju Verma had resigned as Social Welfare Minister in the Bihar government in the wake of 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 Thakur several times between January and June.

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” and 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 the CBI and so far 17 people have been arrested.

The apex court had earlier termed as “horrible” and “scary” details placed before it about the investigation into the case.

PTI

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