New Delhi: The Supreme Court granted three months to CBI on Monday to complete the probe in Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual assault case, including suspected murders, and directed it to widen the scope to investigate the "outsiders" involved in the crime.
Several girls were sexually and physically assaulted at an NGO-run shelter home in Bihar's Muzaffarpur and the issue had come to light following a report by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).
The apex court also directed CBI to probe the allegations of unnatural sexual assault under section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.
Besides, it asked the agency to probe the offences under the Information Technology Act regarding the video recordings of the alleged assault on girls at the shelter home.
CBI, which filed an interim status report in a sealed cover on its ongoing investigation in the case, requested a vacation bench comprising Justices Indu Malhotra and M R Shah to grant them six months to complete the probe.
"We grant three months to the CBI to complete its investigation," the bench said.
The apex court directed CBI to investigate the role of "outsiders who were involved and facilitated the sexual assaults on the inmates", after administering them intoxicants and also probe against those who allegedly indulged in trafficking of girls from the shelter home.
It observed that these aspects were required to be probed and asked the CBI to submit its final report to the court within three months.
The bench directed all the other concerned agencies to cooperate in the probe being carried out by CBI.
The apex court had earlier directed CBI to complete by June 3 its probe into the alleged murder of 11 girls at the shelter home and asked it to file a status report.
Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan, appearing for the CBI, told the bench that the agency has so far excavated two bodies and it is awaiting the forensic report so that the identities could be ascertained.
Divan said trial against 21 accused, chargesheeted by CBI in for alleged sexual and physical assault on the inmates, was on and the progress was satisfactory.
Advocate Aparna Bhat, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, said that murder aspect needs to be investigated thoroughly since several victims have given statements to that effect.
She said there are allegations of offences of unnatural sexual assault and CBI should probe this aspect as well, besides investigating the fact as to who brought these girls in the shelter home.
When the amicus said that six months sought by CBI to complete the probe was too much, the bench observed, "We can streamline the time limit but the investigation must go on".
Senior lawyer Shekhar Naphade and advocate Fauzia Shakil, appearing for the petitioner who claimed that CBI has not conducted proper investigation in the case, said that allegation of trafficking of girls has not been probed by the agency.
Naphade told the bench that several inmates have talked about outsiders who used to come to the shelter home and sexually abuse them, but CBI has not investigated this aspect.
"How many girls are missing (from the shelter home)?" the bench asked the CBI.
Divan said there were 471 inmates in the shelter home and according to the witnesses, 11 girls were murdered but there was difficulty in ascertaining their identities.
Divan also said that as per reports, four girls had died in the shelter home due to natural causes.
During the hearing, the bench dismissed an application filed by prime accused Brajesh Thakur who was seeking to intervene in the matter.
In its earlier affidavit, CBI had told the court that 11 girls were allegedly murdered and a "bundle of bones" was recovered from a burial ground in Muzaffarpur.
CBI had said that allegations regarding involvement of outsiders have been investigated by them and the accused have also been chargesheeted as per the revelation made by victims.
On November 28 last year, the top court had directed the CBI to conduct probe into allegations of physical and sexual abuse of inmates in 16 other shelter homes in Bihar which were flagged in the TISS report.