Annoyed with the conduct of the four member advocates' committee, constituted by the Punjab and Haryana high court to interview 101 inmates of Rohtak shelter home abuse, for being at "logger heads" with each other, "lack of co-ordination" and "media interaction", the high court on Wednesday came down heavily on the committee.
The vacation bench comprising justice LN Mittal and justice Gurmeet Singh Sandhawalia said, "If this is the way you are conducting, we shall disband the panel. If you are at loggerheads, we don't want you." The bench further mentioned, "We appointed the team to inspire confidence….You don't have any co-ordination."
The high court in its June 1 order had constituted a four member committee comprising Utsav Singh Bains (petitioner), Anil Malhotra, Puneeta Sethi and Sudeepti Sharma to identify cases of torture or sexual abuse of Rohtak shelter home children by visiting various shelter homes where these inmated had been transferred. But only Malhotra and Sharma submitted their report on Tuesday in the high court in a sealed cover.
During the resumed hearing of the case, Malhotra apprised the court that after coming back to Chandigarh on June 7 he had been repeatedly writing e-mails and sending SMS messages to all the members but none responded except Sharma after which they prepared the report and submitted it to the high court.He also informed the court that rather than working on the assigned work, Bains was only busy in addressing the media and giving interviews to electronic channels.
On this, the bench restrained the committee members to have any interaction with the media. The bench also directed that the report submitted by the two committee members be also handed over to the other two members so that they can also furnish their report to the high court on Thursday.
When the bench asked the members as to what was the urgency of submitting the report early, Sharma informed that Tuesday's news report about an inmate Ramawati attempting suicide by jumping from top of a building was shocking and immediate directions from the high court were required to address the issue.
However, Sethi apprised the court that she had also interviewed many female inmates and had important details with her which should have been a part of the report.
When the court was about to adjourn the case for the next hearing to June 15, Sharma requested the bench to hand over the investigation to an independent agency like CBI stating that lives of small children was at risk.
"They require immediate medical (aid) as what had happened with these children is shocking," she asserted. However, the bench said that she can wait for two more days for the orders after coming report of the remaining two members and passing any orders in hurry would not be correct.