A Delhi court has sought CBI's reply by January 18 on a plea filed by Brajesh Thakur, prime accused in alleged sexual and physical assault on several girls in a Muzaffarpur shelter home, claiming that the testimonies of witnesses in the case were not reliable.
Additional Sessions Judge Saurabh Kulshreshtha was hearing the plea which claimed that the case setup by the prosecution witnesses was "false, fabricated and concocted".
The court had earlier deferred for the third time pronouncement of judgement in the case till January 20 after the petition was filed.
The plea said the CBI on January 8 submitted a status report in the Supreme Court wherein it said that the some of the girls of the shelter home, who were thought to be allegedly murdered, were alive.
Brajesh Thakur's petition, filed through advocate PK Dubey, has claimed that the prosecution witnesses in the shelter home sexual assault case were not trustworthy as the investigation into the allegations of murder were based on their statements. These facts were relevant and essential for a fair trial, it said.
"It is pertinent to mention that the investigation into the allegations of murder were based on the statements made by the prosecutrixes (rape survivors) who are prosecution witnesses in the case. They had levelled false allegations against the accused before the court including inter alia allegations pertaining to murder," it said.
The plea, also filed through advocate Dheeraj Kumar, has further alleged that the case setup by the prosecution witnesses was "false, fabricated and concocted".
"These facts were not only relevant but sine qua non (essential) for the just adjudication in the present case."
"The facts prove that the aforementioned prosecution witnesses are unreliable and untrustworthy and they have mislead not only the investigating agency but also this court. Further, the case setup by the prosecution witnesses is false, fabricated and concocted," the plea claimed.
These facts were new developments which were not available with the accused at the time of the trial and therefore could not have been placed before the court despite all diligence, it said.
The court had earlier deferred the order till January 14 as the judge was on leave and prior to it, the judgment was deferred by a month as 20 accused, who are currently lodged in Tihar central jail, could not be brought to court premises due to lawyers' strike in all six district courts in the national capital.
The court had on March 20, 2018, framed charges against the accused, including Brajesh Thakur, for offences of criminal conspiracy to commit rape and penetrative sexual assault against minors.
The accused included eight women and 12 men.
The court had held trial for the offences of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, drugging of minors, criminal intimidation among other charges.
The prime accused and employees of his shelter home, as well as Bihar department of social welfare officials were charged with criminal conspiracy, neglect of duty and failure to report assault on the girls. The charges also included offence of cruelty to children under their authority, punishable under the Juvenile Justice Act.
All the accused, who appeared before the court, pleaded innocence and claimed trial. The offences entail a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
The court had reserved order on September 30 after final arguments by the CBI counsel and 20 accused in the case in which former Bihar Social Welfare Minister and the then JD(U) leader Manju Verma also faced flak as allegations surfaced that Brajesh Thakur had links with her husband. She had resigned from her post on August 8, 2018.
During an in-camera trial, the CBI had told a special court that there was enough evidence against all the accused in the case.
However, those accused have claimed that the CBI had not conducted a "fair investigation" into the case, which has been registered under the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and entails life imprisonment as the maximum punishment.
The case was transferred on February 7 from a local court in Muzaffarpur in Bihar to a POCSO court at Saket district court complex in Delhi on the top court's directions.
During the trial, counsel for the CBI told the court that the statements of minor girls, who were allegedly sexually assaulted, point to the fact that there was enough evidence against all the accused and they should be convicted.
The matter had come to light after the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) submitted a report to the Bihar government on May 26, 2018, highlighting the alleged sexual abuse of minor girls in the shelter home for the first time.
On May 29 last year, the state government shifted the girls from the shelter home to other protection homes. In May 31, 2018, an FIR was lodged against the 11 accused in the case.
The top court had on August 2 last year, taken cognisance of the alleged sexual assault of about 30 minor girls in Muzaffarpur's shelter home and transferred the probe to the CBI on November 28.