Sat, 29 Feb 2020

New Delhi [India], Jan 20 (ANI): A Delhi court on Monday convicted 19 persons, including nine women, in connection with the sexual and physical assault of more than 40 girls at a shelter home in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district, that came to light in 2018.

While eight women -- Shaista Praveen, Indu Kumari, Meenu Devi, Manju Devi, Chanda Devi, Neha Kumari, Hema Masih, Kiran Kumari -- were convicted under charges of dealing with criminal conspiracy, one Rozy Rani was convicted under the provisions of Juvenile Justice Act.

Additional Session Judge Saurabh Kulshrestha also acquitted one accused named Vickey in the matter and listed it for argument over 'quantum of the sentence' on January 28.

Former MLA Brajesh Thakur, who was the owner of the NGO called Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti, was also convicted under charges of gang-rape, rape and aggravated penetrative sexual assault.

In its 3,100 page judgment, judge Kulshrestha held Thakur guilty under Sections 376 (rape), 376 (D) (gang-rape) 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) 324 (Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 109 (abetment) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Sections 6 and 17 of POCSO Act and Sections 75 of Juvenile Justice Act.

The court convicted seven other men -- Ravi Roshan, Dilip Verma, Vikash Kumar, Vijay Kumar Tiwari, Guddu Patel, Kishan Ram, and Ramanuj Thakur --under various charges dealing with rape and criminal conspiracy.

However, two other men - Ashwini and Rama Shankar - were convicted under charges dealing with criminal conspiracy and abetment but were acquitted of rape charges.

Some of the convicts and their family members present in the court cried after the court pronounced its judgment.

Advocate Nishaank Matoo, who was representing Thakur in the matter, said that they will decide their further course of action after going through the judgment.

"The prosecution has failed to prove the applicability of the POCSO Act as they did not file the x-rays of the alleged victims on record and have further not examined the technician who took the x- rays," he said.

He said that they also did not seize the documents pertaining to the school records relating to the age of the victim.

The court had, on September 30, reserved the order after concluding arguments from both the sides.

The Supreme Court had transferred the case from Bihar to a Delhi court and ordered the judge to complete it within six months, following which the trial court framed charges against 20 accused in the case.

The gruesome incident came to light after the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) filed an affidavit detailing horrifying sexual abuse cases at the shelter homes. More than 40 minor girls were allegedly sexually assaulted over a period of time in the shelter home run by Thakur's state-funded NGO. (ANI)

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