The CBI informed a Delhi court on Wednesday that it has appointed two Special Public Prosecutors (SPPs) in the Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual assault case, after which both sides were directed to "positively commence" arguments from the next date of hearing, March 2.
Additional Sessions Judge Saurabh Kulshreshtha directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that if it wants to file an additional charge sheet in the matter, it has to be done within 15 days.
Advocates Amit Jindal and R N Sinha have been appointed as SPPs by the agency, who then informed the court that they need some time to prepare the arguments as the notification from the agency was received the night before.
The court then said: "Both the parties are directed to positively commence arguments on March 2."
On Monday it had rapped the agency for the delay in notifying SPP in the sexual assault case and warned it that any laxity to comply with the court's order will amount to contempt and action would be taken against the agency for it.
"Do not expect the court to wait for one week for the notification to come. You are as much bound by the Supreme Court order as I am. Do not take me to that stage that I should write to the Supreme Court that the CBI is in contempt of the order initiated by the court. Already once you have suffered contempt," the court had said.
The apex court had on February 7 ordered that the shelter home sexual assault case be transferred from Bihar to a Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) court at Saket district court complex here, which would conclude the trial within six months by holding preferably "day-to-day" trials.
Several girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused at an NGO-run shelter home in Muzaffarpur. The issue had come to light following a report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).
On the TISS report, the apex court had said it raised grave concern about 17 shelter homes in Bihar and the CBI must look into all of them. Of these, the Muzaffarpur case was already being looked into by the CBI.
In the Muzaffarpur shelter home case, an FIR was lodged on May 31, 2018 against 11 people following the TISS report.
The probe was later taken over by the CBI and so far, 17 people have been arrested.
The amicus curiae had also told the court that there were 1,028 shelter homes across India where instances of sexual and physical abuse have been reported.