New Delhi : The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought a response from the CBI on an appeal filed by Brajesh Thakur to challenge his conviction in the infamous Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case.
A division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar issued notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) while hearing Thakur's plea to set aside a trial court order to convict him and subsequently award him a life term on February 11.
The court will now hear the matter on August 25.
Thakur -- who was the main accused in the sexual and physical assault on a number of female inmates, including minors, at the shelter home in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district -- pleaded that the trial court had failed to appreciate that prosecution in a rape case must first and foremost establish that an accused is potent and thereby capable of committing the crime.
"The said fact needs to be established by the prosecution as a foundational fact without which the entire case of the prosecution will collapse," the petitioner said.
"... the hurried manner in which the trial was conducted by the trial court is a flagrant violation of the right of the appellant to a free and fair trial guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India," Thakur pleaded.
A Delhi Court had in February 2020 sentenced Thakur to imprisonment for the remainder of his life after holding him guilty under Sections 376 (rape), 376D (gang rape), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 324 (causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 120B (criminal conspiracy), and 109 (abetment) of the Indian Penal Code.
Thakur, a former Bihar People's Party legislator, was also found guilty under Sections 6 and 17 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act. The court, however, acquitted one accused.
The crime come to light after an audit report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) that said many female inmates of the shelter home had complained of sexual assault at the shelter home, run by Thakur's state-funded NGO Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti.
Thakur along with his shelter home staff and Bihar Social Welfare Department officials were made accused in the case registered by Bihar Police. The case was subsequently transferred to the CBI in July 2018.
The court had on March 20, 2019, framed charges against the accused for offences of criminal conspiracy to commit rape and penetrative sexual assault against minors.
The case was, however, transferred from a Muzaffarpur court to the POCSO court at Saket in Delhi last year on the Supreme Court's directions.