The Rajasthan High Court on Tuesday took stern view against confinement of a girl in the government children's home (balika grih) for one year, despite her attaining the age of majority and ordered the Chairperson of the concerned Child Welfare Committee to pay compensation of Rs. 50,000, in addition to showing cause as to why he should not be not be removed from the said position.
In a habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of the detenue, it was argued at the strength of her school documents that she was a major. It was further alleged that despite repeated communications made to the Child Welfare Committee by the officials of the Balika Gruh, Jodhpur to pass appropriate directions for the rehabilitation/welfare of the girl, no steps were taken.
It may be noted that under Section 29 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, the Child Welfare Committee has the authority to dispose of the cases for the care, protection, development and rehabilitation of the children in need of care and protection.
In view thereof it was alleged that the concerned Child Welfare Committee at Pali was deliberately sitting tight over the matter and had failed to pass a lawful order regarding the future course of action qua the petitioner.
After assessing the facts in the case a division comprising of Justices Sandeep Mehta and Vijay Bishnoi observed, "Manifestly, the girl has been crying out loud from the very first day that she was major. Despite repeated requests being made by the Superintendent of Balika Gruh, Jodhpur, the CWC, Pali failed to pass appropriate order regarding the major girl and has facilitated her illegal confinement for nearly one year.
We feel that confinement of the petitioner at the Balika Gruh, Jodhpur despite apparently being a major person for a period of nearly one year was totally the responsibility of the CWC Pali who due to its sheer incompetence, possible connivance, avoided to take appropriate steps in accordance with law."
The court observed that the Chairperson, CWC was acting in "possible connivance" with one Ashok Kumar, to whom the petitioner was being pressurized by her parents to marry. Taking strong exception to this, the court held that she was a major, and should be allowed to go with the person she wanted to marry as per her desire.
Accordingly, it was held that the delay occasioned in concluding the age related enquiry of the girl was not bonafide, but was "clothed with foul motive".
In view thereof, the court directed Chairperson, CWC, Pali and Ex-Member, CWC, Pali to pay compensation to the tune of Rs.50,000/- each to the writ petitioner for her illegal confinement at the Balika Gruh, Jodhpur for a period of almost 11 months after the first date of her production before the CWC, Pali.
"The noticees shall deposit this amount with the District Judge, Pali within a period of 60 days from today. The amount so deposited shall be paid to the writ petitioner as compensation," the court directed.
The court further observed that CWC Pali is not competent to perform its lawful obligations as per the Juvenile Justice Act and rather appears to have acted in a malafide manner.
"We therefore, issue suo moto notice to the Chairperson as well as the sole Member of CWC Pali Shri Sudarshan Udawat to show cause as to why they should not be removed from their respective assignment and also as to why they should not be called upon to pay compensation to the petitioner for keeping her in illegal confinement for nearly one year. We also call upon the State Government to show cause as to why suitable compensation should be awarded to the petitioner," the court directed.
Case Title: Deepika v. State Of Rajasthan & Ors.
Case No.: Habeas Corpus Petition No. 164/2019
Quorum: Justice Sandeep Mehta and Justice Vijay Bishnoi
Appearance: Advocate Rajendra Choudhary (for Petitioner); GA-cum-AAG Farzand Ali and Advocate HS Sidhu (for Respondents)
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