The Centre has asked all states to submit a report on shelter homes housing children in need. A government official told the Supreme Court that the states have been asked to submit reports by September 15.
The union government's directive to states on submitting a report on shelter homes comes after an affidavit was filed by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), a body set up under the juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act. NCPCR is conducting a survey of about 9000 shelter homes. This comes in the backdrop of chilling reports of child rights abuse and sexual harassment at many such shelter homes.
The Indian Express had earlier reported that the Supreme court directed the Bihar government to make public the audit report of shelter homes in Bihar, prepared by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). The same report mentioned that the Centre told the court "that a survey of 9,589 childcare institutions had revealed 1,575 sex abuse victims." The court had asked the Centre to draw up a child protection policy with the aim to focus on "preventing such crimes." According to the same report, the bench had pulled up Centre on the matter and had asked NCPCR to take TISS’s suggestions on conducting social audits on this account.
NCPCR found out in its study that out of the 2,874 children homes inspected, so far, only 54 got "positive reviews." Responding to the situation, judges hearing the matter said that NCPCR findings revealed a “frightening scenario” of shelter homes.
“What can we do? We are helpless because if we pass orders then we are criticised and also accused of judicial activism,” justice MB Lokur said, according to this Hindustan Times report.
The newspaper has reported that Astha Saxena, joint secretary in ministry of women and child development (WCD), told a bench that inputs on shelter homes that housed children from all states will help in "plugging loop holes." Saxena further added that the inputs will not only help in strengthening legal system involved in managing shelter homes, but also help states in getting assistance from district magistrates. The bench was led by justice Lokur.
According to Amar Ujala, the bench observed that it is clear from NCPCR findings that authorities do not care enough, that no one is interested in monitoring conditions in shelter homes, and, that had authorities done their job well, rapes in Muzaffarpur shelter home would not have taken place. The next hearing will be held on 20th September.
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