Supreme Court Ends Ban On Reporting Of Bihar Shelter Home Cases

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New Delhi: 

The embargo on reporting of Bihar shelter abuse cases has been ended by the Supreme Court with an instruction for the media to exercise restraint and not to misreport or sensationalise such news. The Patna High court had banned reporting on Muzaffarpur shelter abuse cases on August 23. The high court had also expressed displeasure over leak of details of the investigation and asked the media to refrain from publishing them.

A journalist, who had challenged the blanket ban in the top court, through her lawyer told the court that the media had actually helped the Bihar shelter scandal to come out.

However, Justice Madan B Lokur said that when a case is going on, media can't deliver its judgement.

"It appears there is no mechanism of enforcement of guidelines which leads to misreporting. We need the assistance of Editors Guild, Press Council of India and National Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA)  to prevent misreporting," a bench of Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said today.

In her plea filed in the top court, the petitioner claimed that there was no material before the high court that suggests that the media reporting could hamper the ongoing investigation in the case.

She said that it was because of the pro-active role of the media that the "shocking incident" was exposed and imposing a blanket ban on reporting the probe into the case was "arbitrary".

Over 30 girls were raped at the shelter run allegedly by Brajesh Thakur, who headed the state-funded NGO. The sexual exploitation of the girls was first highlighted through a report submitted by the Mumbai-based Tata Institute Of Social Sciences (TISS) to the state's social welfare department.

An FIR was filed and 10 people, including Brajesh Thakur, were arrested. The NGO running the shelter was also blacklisted and the girls were shifted to other shelters in Patna and Madhubani.

As the case led to nationwide outcry, and opposition parties in Bihar demanded immediate action against the accused, the Nitish Kumar government handed over the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

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