Begusarai: Facing arrest in an Arms Act case after the alleged recovery of a huge cache of ammunition from her residence, former Bihar minister Manju Verma Tuesday moved a Begusarai court, pleading with it not to declare her an "absconder."
Verma had to resign as the social welfare minister from the Nitish Kumar Cabinet in August after reports suggested "close links" between her husband Chandrashekhar Verma and prime accused Brajesh Thakur in the Muzaffarpur shelter home scandal.
Verma was subsequently booked in an Arms Act case, which was lodged after recovery of a huge cache of ammunition from her residence in Begusarai during a raid by the CBI sleuths, probing the Muzaffarpur shelter home sex scandal.
Verma's counsel Satya Narayan Mahto moved the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Prabhat Trivedi Tuesday soon after the police approached it to declare the former minister a "proclaimed offender" for evading the arrest.
A court declaring an accused a proclaimed offender entitles the police to paste a legal notice on the walls of the residence of accused, asking him or her to surrender before the court within a stipulated period, failing which the property of the accused is liable to be confiscated and auctioned.
The former minister's counsel submitted to the magisterial court that his client was not evading arrest but only following the due process of law to get a relief against arrest.
Mahto argued that the former minister was not an absconder but had approached the Supreme Court to seek bail in the case after the Patna High Court had turned down her anticipatory bail plea on October 9.
The Supreme Court, however, had pulled up the Bihar Police on October 30 for not arresting Verma till then, despite dismissal of her anticipatory bail plea by the high court.
The next day the apex court bench was informed that the former minister was in "hiding".
The Begusarai court subsequently issued an arrest warrant against Verma on October 31.
Over 30 girls and women were allegedly raped and sexually abused at the shelter home in Muzaffarpur and it had come to light that Chandrashekhar Verma had spoken to Thakur several times between January and June.
An FIR was lodged on May 31 against 11 people, including Thakur, who was running the shelter home. The probe into the case was later handed ober to the CBI by the Bihar government.
An FIR was lodged against Manju Verma under Arms Act in August at Cheria Bariarpur police station of Begusarai district after the seizure of about 50 live cartridges from her residence.
The seizure was made by the CBI raids at Verma's family residences in Patna and Begusarai during its probe into the Muzaffarpur shelter home sex scandal.
On October 25, the apex court had asked the Bihar government and the CBI to explain why there was a delay in tracing whereabouts of Chandrashekhar Verma, who is wanted for alleged illegal possession of ammunition in large quantity.
Chandrashekhar Verma surrendered before the Begusarai court on October 29.