14 Dec 2021 5:33 AM GMT
Calling affairs of Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust and other Child Care Centres in the national capital as appalling, the Delhi High Court has sought response of the Delhi Government, Ministry of Women and Child Development on the steps taken to ensure that the children do not escape such centres and are not kidnapped thereafter. Justice Subramonium Prasad was dealing with a plea...
Calling affairs of Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust and other Child Care Centres in the national capital as appalling, the Delhi High Court has sought response of the Delhi Government, Ministry of Women and Child Development on the steps taken to ensure that the children do not escape such centres and are not kidnapped thereafter.
Justice Subramonium Prasad was dealing with a plea seeking a magisterial enquiry into an incident concerning escape of five minor girls in March this year from a children home at Bakhtawarpur and other similar incidents reported in the past.
"…. the affairs in the Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust, Bhakhtawarpur, Delhi and other Child Care Centres are appalling and it transpires that children/inmates in the centres run away or are being kidnapped at regular intervals and no concrete action is being taken by the State," the Court said.
"The Ministry of Women and Child Development, which is the concerned Department, is directed to file an affidavit regarding the steps taken by the State to ensure that the children/inmates in these homes are not kidnapped and they do not escape from Child Care Centres."
While listing the matter for further hearing on January 11, 2022, the Court appointed Senior Advocate Rebecca Mammen John as Amicus Curiae to assist the Court in the case.
During the course of hearing, Kiran Gandhi, Joint Director of Child Protection Unit, Department of Women and Child Development had appeared before the Court and sought some time to file a status report.
This was after the Court had directed the presence for assisting the Court in giving appropriate directions to ensure better functioning of various child care institutions.
Advocate R.H.A. Sikander appearing for DCPCR apprised the Court that a letter dated December 1 was sent to the Department of Women and Child Development seeking details regarding the run away of the children from the children home and the incident of kidnapping of the minor children from Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust and other Child Care Centres from December 1, 2020 to October 30, 2021.
However he submitted that the reply was not received yet.
Earlier, the Court had expressed it's inclination to issue directions for better functioning of child care institutions in the city, following reported incidents of escape/ kidnapping from one such institution.
The plea had sought directions on the Delhi Government and other agencies to initiate legal action against the criminal negligence on the part of the staff that resulted into frequent incidence of escape of minor girls.
Further, directions were sought to arrest the accused responsible for illegally kidnapping the minor girls from the child home and illegally detaining one of the girls and committing sexual assaults, converting her from Hinduism to Islam and performing Nikkah.
As per the status report filed by Assistant Commissioner of Police, District Investigation Unit, it was stated that the condition of the child care home building was such that it was easily possible for the inmates to escape.
It further revealed that while there were 63 girls lodged Bakhtawarpur child care home, no adequate security guard specially female guards were found deployed in the same.
Furthermore, it also stated that as per the enquiry done in the matter, it was revealed that total 14 incidents of escape of girls happened from the child care home and that in all the previous 13 incidents, separate FIRs were registered. However, no active negligence could be established on the part of the staff in the investigation qua escape of 5 minor girls.
The Court had also taken on record the reply filed by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child right which had raised concerns on functioning of the said child care institution in question.
Case Title: RAJESH KUMAR v. STATE (GOVT. OF NCT OF DELHI) & ORS.
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