Bihar police says ex-minister Manju Verma untraceable; SC expresses shock

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday said it was “quite shocked” that the Bihar police was unable to trace and arrest former state minister Manju Verma, who had stepped down from the cabinet in the wake of the Muzaffarpur shelter home scandal, in a case related to alleged recovery of illegal ammunition from her.

A bench of justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta summoned the Bihar director general of police (DGP) to explain why the state police had failed to trace the whereabouts of Verma and arrest her in connection with the case.

Verma had resigned as the social welfare minister in the Bihar government following the Muzaffarpur case, where several women inmates of a shelter home were allegedly raped and sexually abused, after it came to light that her husband Chandrashekhar Verma had spoken to Brajesh Thakur, the prime accused in the case, several times between January and June.

At the outset, the bench asked, “Has the lady (Verma) been arrested?” 

The counsel appearing for the Bihar government said Verma was not arrested yet as the police were not able to trace her.

“That is fantastic. A (former) cabinet minister is not traceable. Fantastic. How could it happen that a (former) cabinet minister is not traceable and nobody knows where she is? Do you realise the seriousness of this? You have to explain to us how a (former) cabinet minister is not traceable,” the bench said.

“You call the DGP. This is too much,” Justice Lokur told the counsel appearing for the state.

The bench, which posted the matter for further hearing to November 27, also said, “We are quite shocked that a former cabinet minister cannot be traced for more than a month.” 

It also made it clear that if Verma was arrested in the meanwhile, the DGP need not appear before it.

Advocate Fauzia Shakil, appearing for petitioner Nivedita Jha, raised the issue of the state of affairs in 14 other shelter homes in Bihar, which was highlighted in a report submitted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to the Bihar government in March.

Shakil argued that the “high and mighty” were involved in these matters and despite the fact that rampant physical and sexual abuse of boys and girls was going on at these 14 shelter homes, no action was taken by the state till date.

“There appears to be widespread mismanagement in the shelter homes of Bihar,” the bench said and asked the chief secretary of the state to remain present before it on November 27.

It also referred to a recent newspaper report that said five girls had run away from a shelter home in Bihar.

Advocate Aparna Bhat, assisting the court as an “amicus curiae” (an impartial adviser to a court of law in a particular case) in the shelter home case, said the Child Welfare Committee was not functioning properly in Bihar.

“Child Welfare Committee? Even the police is not functioning in Bihar,” the bench observed.

On October 31, the apex court had expressed displeasure over the failure of the police in arresting Verma, whose anticipatory bail plea was dismissed by the Patna High Court on October 9.

Verma’s husband had earlier surrendered before a court in Begusarai, Bihar in connection with the case related to recovery of ammunition.

The top court had last month directed that Thakur be shifted to the high-security jail in Punjab’s Patiala from a jail in Bihar’s Bhagalpur.

The order to shift Thakur out of Bihar was passed after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had, on October 25, told the top court that he was an influential person and was found in possession of a mobile phone inside the Bhagalpur jail.

On September 20, the court had said it had come on record that Chandrashekhar Verma and his wife were in “possession of illegal ammunition of a fairly large quantity”. It is not clear whether they were in possession of illegal arms as well.

The court had observed that the CBI, in its status report filed earlier, had noted that an FIR was lodged against Chandrashekhar and Manju Verma.

“The affairs of these two need to be looked into, particularly with regard to their procurement and possession of illegal ammunition and availability of illegal weapons, if any. We request the local police in the state of Bihar to look into this aspect with some degree of seriousness,” the bench had said in its order.

Over 30 girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused at the Muzaffarpur shelter home and the issue was first highlighted in an audit report submitted by the TISS to the social welfare department of the Bihar government.

An FIR was lodged on May 31 against 11 people, including Thakur, who was running the shelter home.

The probe was later taken over by the CBI and so far, 17 people have been arrested.

SC rejects plea alleging atrocities by police

SC rejects plea alleging atrocities by police
SC rejects plea alleging atrocities by police

The Supreme Court has dismissed a plea by a Bihar resident, who has claimed atrocities by police and alleging that he was branded a terrorist or naxalite and his mobile phone put on surveillance.

The apex court rejected his appeal against the order of the Patna High Court in November last year observing that the view of the high court that the petitioner had levelled allegations whose veracity cannot be examined in a writ petition, was “without blemish”.

“The high court has dismissed the writ petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution with the observations that the petitioner has levelled allegations, veracity whereof cannot be examined in the writ petition,” a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said.

“It is also mentioned that most of the allegations did not pertain to incidents in the state of Bihar and these allegations could not be examined in the writ jurisdiction of the high court,” the bench noted in its order.

The petitioner, a resident of Begusarai district in Bihar, had approached the apex court challenging the high court order dismissing his plea seeking directions to telecom operators and banks to stop alleged surveillance of his mobile number and bank account.

He had claimed in the high court that Delhi Police had put his mobile number on surveillance, was following him from time to time and interrogating him. He had also contended that he was defamed and branded a terrotist or a naxalite by another person.

The man had claimed that he was beaten up in March 2014 by the police and had sought a compensation on the ground that he had lost almost five years of his life due to the atrocities he has faced.

The high court had dismissed his plea saying he had effective alternate remedies under the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The apex court, while concurring with the observations of the high court, said, “The aforesaid view taken by the high court is without blemish. Therefore, this special leave petition is dismissed”.

“However, having regard to the aforesaid observations made by the high court, it would be open to the petitioner to file civil suit or criminal proceedings as advised under the law,” the bench said.

( Source – PTI )

SC rejects magistrate’s report in Tarn Taran incident

The magisterial probe has been rejected by the Supreme court of India here in New Delhi of the Tarn Taran incident in which a girl was beaten up by Punjab Police saying it does not have the value more that of a “scrap paper”.

A bench of justices G S Singhvi and Kurien Joseph said that findings of the report were “misleading the statement of facts” and it should be “thrown in a dustbin”.

“The report is rejected. It is misleading and containing wrong facts,” according to the bench, adding, “It does not have the value more that the scrap paper to be thrown in dustbin”.

The bench ordered that the girl be provided protection and directed the Secretary, Union Territory of Chandigarh administration, to make available adequate security to her. It clarified that the security provided to the girl should not be from Punjab Police.

During the proceedings, the bench got infuriated on reading the report which said that such baton charges do happen and warned the state government of imposing a heavy
penalty if such incident recurs in the state.

“Do you not feel ashamed when a lady is beaten up by police and the state DGP goes on television on that very day justifying the action without conducting any inquiry against police officials,” asked by it.

The bench, at one time during the hearing, said that DGP and district magistrate will have to be personally present on the next date of hearing to answer its query. But their presence were not mentioned in the order dictated in the open court.

The case was posted for further hearing on April 11. Attorney General G E Vahanvati said it was amazing that the father of the girl was asked to sign a compromise deal in the police station. Senior advocate Harish Salve, assisting the court as an amicus curiae, said the magistrate’s report is atrocious.

The court had earlier taken suo-motu cognisance of news reports on separate incidents in which a woman was beaten up in Punjab and some women teachers were assaulted in Patna during an agitation. The bench said it will go through the response of the Bihar DGP and Patna SSP on the issue on the next hearing.

It had issued notices to the Centre and states saying the beating up of innocent and unarmed people was “animal behaviour”. On March 4, the 22-year-old girl and her father were thrashed by constables when she had approached them for lodging a complaint against harassment by a truck driver and his accomplices in Tarn Taran.

In the other incident, Bihar Police personnel had on March 5 resorted to baton charge and fired tear gas shells during a protest by contractual teachers outside the assembly in Patna demanding regularisation of their jobs and pay parity with regular teachers.

The bench said that the ailment starts at the grass-rootslevel at the time of recruitment which is done for extraneous considerations.

SC raps Bihar, Punjab govts for police excesses

The Bihar and Punjab governments has been slammed by the Supreme court of India for recent incidents of police excesses saying the beating up of innocent and unarmed people was “animal behaviour” and issued notices to the Centre and all states on the issue of implementation of its direction on police reforms.

Taking strong view of the beating up of a girl in Punjab and school teachers in Patna by police personnel, the court issued notice to chief secretaries, home secretaries and DGPs of all states and police commissions of UTs on implementation of the court’s directions in the Prakash Singh case on police reforms.

A bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi also directed the DGPs of Bihar and Punjab to file personal affidavits giving explanations for the incidents. The SP of Patna and SSP of Tarn Taran districts were also directed to file the affidavit.

“How can police act in such manner? How can a woman be treated in this way? There must be some norm for police to handle such situations,” the bench said, adding, “Time has come to undertake some exercise to stop such incidents and some concrete action must be taken by the state.

“… Innocent and unarmed people were beaten up in these incidents. This is animal behaviour…”

The court passed the order after it took suo motu cognisance of media reports about the two incidents.

On March 4, the girl was thrashed by police constables when she had approached them along with her father for lodging a complaint against harassment by a truck driver and his accomplices in Tarn Taran district.

In the other incident, Bihar Police personnel on March 5 resorted to baton charge and fired tear gas shells during a protest by contractual teachers outside the Assembly in Patna demanding regularisation of their jobs and pay parity with regular teachers
.

SC seeks explanation from Punjab, Bihar

Taking strong exception of recent incidents of police beating protesting contractual teachers in Bihar and a girl in Tarn Taran in Punjab, the Supreme Court today sought explanation from the two states on the conduct of police personnel.

Taking suo motu cognisance of media reports, a bench of justices G S Singhvi and Ranjana Prakash Desai directed the two state governments to respond on Monday on the allegations of police brutality.

The bench asked Attorney General G E Vahanvati and senior advocate Harish Salve to assist the court in dealing with the issue. It posted the matter for further hearing on March 11.

On March 4, a woman was thrashed by Punjab police constables when she had approached them along with her father for lodging a complaint against harassment by a truck driver and his accomplices in Tarn Taran district.

In another incident, Bihar Police had yesterday resorted to a baton charge and fired tear gas shells during a protest by contractual teachers outside the Assembly in Patna demanding regularisation of their jobs and pay parity with regular teachers.

PTI

SC seeks explanation from Punjab, Bihar on police brutality

Taking strong exception to recent incidents of police beating protesting contractual teachers in Bihar and a girl in Tarn Taran in Punjab, the Supreme Court sought explanation from the two states on the conduct of police personnel.

Taking suo motu cognisance of media reports, a bench of justices G S Singhvi and Ranjana Prakash Desai directed the two state governments to respond on Monday on the allegations of police brutality.

The bench asked Attorney General G E Vahanvati and senior advocate Harish Salve to assist the court in dealing with the issue. It posted the matter for further hearing on March 11.

On March 4, a woman was thrashed by Punjab police constables when she had approached them along with her father for lodging a complaint against harassment by a truck driver and his accomplices in Tarn Taran district.

In another incident, Bihar Police had on Tuesday resorted to a baton charge and fired tear gas shells during a protest by contractual teachers outside the Assembly in Patna demanding regularisation of their jobs and pay parity with regular teachers.

 

PTI