Shelter home rape: SC bans media from telecasting victims images

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today restrained the electronic media from telecasting or broadcasting images of the alleged victims of rape and sexual assault at a shelter home run by a state-funded NGO in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district.

A bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta took suo moto cognizance of the matter after it received a letter from one Ranvijay Kumar from Patna and expressed concern that the alleged victims were subjected to media interviews.

The bench, which issued notices to the Bihar government and the Centre, asked the media not to interview the alleged victims. “They cannot be compelled to relive the trauma again and again,” the bench said. It also restrained the media from telecasting the images even in even in morphed form.

“The investigating agency will take assistance of professional counsellors and qualified child psychiatrist in questioning the victims,” the bench said. The court has now posted the matter for further hearing on 7 August.

Over 30 girls were allegedly raped at the centre run by one Brajesh Thakur, the chief of the state-funded NGO. The alleged sexual exploitation of the girls was first highlighted in an audit report submitted by the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), Mumbai, to the state’s social welfare department in April. An FIR was lodged against 11 people, including Thakur on 31 May.

The probe has now been taken over by the CBI. In all, sexual abuse of 34 inmates out of 42 was confirmed in their medical examination, while two others who were unwell were yet to undergo medical tests. The TISS audit report stated that many girls at the shelter home had complained of sexual abuse.

A special investigation team was formed to probe the complaints. The NGO running the shelter home in Muzaffarpur was blacklisted and the girls were shifted to shelter homes in Patna and Madhubani. Women staff members of the shelter home and Thakur were among those who were arrested by the local police in connection with the case.

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