Allahabad: In a shocking incident, three minor girls at a juvenile home here were raped by a peon leading to his arrest and suspension of the home superintendent as an "absolutely shocked" Allahabad High Court took suo motu cognizance of the matter and issued a direction to ensure that "an exemplary deterrent message goes out".

The three girls lived in the state-run juvenile home located in Shivkuti police station area of the city where they were raped by 50-year-old peon Vidyabhushan Ojha who was arrested Thursday night.

The matter came to light through a six-year-old girl from the juvenile home who was recently adopted by a city-based couple.

 The couple, during their interactions with the adopted child, received hints of the horrific happenings inside the juvenile home and informed its superintendent Urmila Gupta, who got an FIR lodged against Ojha.

Following his arrest, Ojha allegedly confessed to have sexually assaulted at least three inmates, after which the three girls identified by him, all of them in the age group of
8-12 years, were taken for medical test which established that they had been raped.

District Probationary Officer Ila Pant took a strong note of the matter and suspended Urmila Gupta on Friday on the charge of negligence and terminated the services of Ojha even as a three-member team was constituted by District Magistrate Anil Kumar who ordered that an inquiry be conducted and report submitted for further action.

Meanwhile, a division bench of the Allahabad High Court comprising Justice Amar Saran and Justice Ashok Srivastava took suo motu cognizance of the matter, ordered that it be treated as a criminal Public Interest Litigation and remarked "we are absolutely shocked".

"We would be interested that investigation and trial in all the three matters be concluded within three months so that an exemplary deterrent message goes out that neither courts nor society can tolerate such abhorrent conduct by persons who are given the charge of providing shelter to such hapless little orphan girls", the High Court observed.

It also asked the DM and the SSP of Allahabad to appear in person on April 11 and inform the court about the action taken against the accused and the superintendent of the juvenile home besides providing information about the number of staff deployed there since "these repeated crimes could have gone undetected but for the information of the adoptive parents of the newly-adopted girl".

The HC asked the Principal Secretary, Women and Child Welfare, of Uttar Pradesh to file an affidavit about steps taken to ensure that "sincere, sensitive and hard working persons are appointed superintendents or in-charges of juvenile homes being run by the state government" and action taken against "other employees who may in the past have been engaged in similar misdeeds".