New Delhi: A Delhi court on Monday found 19 out of the 20 accused in the Muzaffarpur shelter home case guilty of rape, conspiracy, and aggravated sexual assault of minors.
The shelter home was run by former Bihar People's Party (BPP) MLA Brajesh Thakur, who has also been convicted.
Moments after the court read out its decision, one of the convicts broke down and said, "I did not even touch the girls. I will commit suicide."
The court had on March 20, 2018 framed charges against the accused, including Thakur, for offences of criminal conspiracy to commit rape and penetrative sexual assault against minors. The accused included eight women and 12 men. The court had held trial for the offences of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, drugging of minors and criminal intimidation among other charges.
Key accused Thakur and employees of his shelter home as well as officials in the Bihar department of social welfare were charged with criminal conspiracy, neglect of duty and failure to report the assault on the girls. The charges also included offence of cruelty to child under their authority, punishable under the Juvenile Justice Act.
The court had reserved order on September 30 after final arguments by the CBI counsel and 20 accused in the case in which former Bihar Social Welfare Minister and then JD(U) leader Manju Verma also faced flak as allegations surfaced that Thakur had links with her husband. She had resigned from her post on August 8, 2018.
The case was transferred on February 7 last year 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 came light after the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) submitted a report to the Bihar government on May 26, 2018, highlighting the alleged sexual abuse of minor girls in the shelter home for the first time.
On May 29, 2018, the state government shifted the girls from the shelter home to other protection homes. An FIR was lodged against the 11 accused in the case on May 31, 2018. The Supreme Court on August 2 had taken cognisance of the alleged sexual assaults of about 30 minor girls in Muzaffarpur's shelter home and transferred the probe to the CBI on November 28.