Muzaffarpur shelter home case: Convict moves HC challenging trial court verdict

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New Delhi, Dec 28 (PTI) One of the convicts, a protection officer of District Child Protection Unit, in the Muzaffarpur shelter home case on Monday moved the Delhi High Court challenging his conviction and the life imprisonment awarded to him by a trial court.

The trial court had on January 20 convicted 19 persons, including main accused Brajesh Thakur, in the case for various offences ranging from aggravated penetrative sexual assault under POCSO Act, criminal conspiracy, rape, gang rape, causing hurt, abetment to rape under IPC and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, section 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act and failure to report commission of an offence under the POCSO Act.

Thereafter, on February 11, the trial court had awarded varying jail terms ranging from a maximum of life imprisonment for the remainder of life to a minimum of three years jail term.

The convict, Ravi Roshan, has challenged his conviction and life imprisonment for the rest of his life for the offences of aggravated penetrative sexual assault under POCSO Act, criminal conspiracy, rape, gang rape, causing hurt, abetment to rape under IPC and POCSO Act.

He has also sought bail during the pendency of his appeal against the trial court order.

Roshan, in his plea filed through advocate A P Singh, claimed that the trial court convicted and sentenced him by merely relying on the complainants' version and did not apply its mind to the facts of the case.

The petition alleged there were material contradictions in the statement of witnesses produced by the prosecution and therefore, they were not reliable.

It further alleged that Roshan was initially treated as a 'witness of the informant side' till June 14, 2018 and thereafter, 'due to a high level of conspiracy he was converted from a prime witness to accused'.

Besides Brajesh Thakur and Roshan. the trial court had sentenced Dilip Verma, Vikas Kumar, Guddu Vijay, Kumar Tiwari, Guddu Patel, Kishan Kumar and Ramanuj Thakur to imprisonment for the remainder of their life in the case.

It had also sent 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. PTI HMP RKS RKS