Representational Image: Woman Abuse/Pixabay

The Supreme Court, taking sou motu cognisance of the Muzaffarpur shelter homes sexual assault case, has barred the media from airing or publishing images and videos of the victims, or conducting interviews with them.

In its order on Thursday, Aug 2, the court asked all media organisations to avoid using pictures and images, even in a morphed form of the rape victims, who are all minors. It has also served a notice to the Centre and Bihar state government to look into the matter.

The court also sought the help of the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) to expedite the case which came to light after a TISS report revealed that minors living in at Balika Grih Sahu were repeatedly raped. This led to the Bihar Social Welfare Department filing an FIR against the NGO.

A man from Bihar also wrote a letter to the court, asking for a reply from the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the state government on why this was allowed to happen.

After the TISS report became public, medical reports confirmed that 34 girls were raped, which led to the Bihar government stepping in and ordering the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to look into the case. The CBI has registered a case against the NGO and its officers and employers. 

The charge sheet details a huge network of police, politicians, administration officials and criminals that have been involved in the case, allowing it to go undetected for over four years.

Bihar governor Satyapal Malik also wrote to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, expressing his anguish and concern over the incident. In the letter, Malik called for fast-track courts to oversee the trial of such cases, and wanted "an institutional mechanism" to ensure regular auditing of shelter homes.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has responded to the growing calls for his resignation, saying: "What has happened has shamed us. It is a sin. Such cases should not happen again. Those responsible for this should be taught a lesson."