A Child Care Institute (CCI) has come under the scanner for accepting two minor girls and releasing them for adoption against the rules of the Juvenile Justice Act 2015 but no action has been initiated against the institute -- Ujjwal Niketan -- even after the intervention of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC).
The JJ Act stipulates that no child can be handed over or accepted by CCIs as it is the mandate of the CWC only.
The Gurgaon CWC conducted a search at the CCI on November 24 and recovered a letter from one Mamta Yadav, who stated that she was giving two children to Ujjwal Niketan. The CCI informed the CWC that the two children had been adopted. However, as there was no record available about their whereabouts, the CWC recommend action against the CCI.
The CWC then approached Mamta Yadav of Sector 10, who had handed over two of her nieces to the institute in July 2016. After being told that her action was in violation of the law, she demanded the children back.
“I was not aware that I can’t give the children to the child care home. I thought they will be looked after well, and get proper education and a home. Now, I want them back. It was my mistake. They are not in that home now and no one is giving information on where they are,” Yadav said.
Mamta was forced to hand over the children to Ujjwal Niketan after the death their parents. Mamta said she could not afford to raise them.
The report submitted by the CWC to the deputy commissioner suggested an FIR against sister Lily Baretto, chairperson of Ujwal Niketan Charitable Trust, on the presumptions of child trafficking and sought an investigation by the commissioner of police.
When the CCI was searched, it was found that they lacked proper sanitation. They did not maintain a proper nutrition chart or diet for the children, a violation of the Juvenile Justice Act. The home also did not maintain a register for its staff.
“I had written to the deputy commissioner that the conduct of the home in connection with the two minor girls has raised suspicion of child trafficking or the use of children for sexual exploitation as they did not provide any document about who adopted the children,” Shakuntala Dhull, chairperson, CWC, said.
The CWC reported the matter to the district administration several times and also wrote to the National Commission for Child Protection (NCPCR) and director of Woman and Child Development but no action has been taken.
The CWC also has the letter, dated July 19, 2016, in which Mamta said that she handed over the children to the home.
“I have already written to sister Lilly seeking explanation and summoned her before the committee, but there was no reply. This is a serious issue. How can she release the children for adoption without informing the CWC?,” Dhull said.
The CWC has demanded the closure of the institution as it has been operating against norms. “We will also ensure that the three children living in the home will be transferred to another home, and we will take care of their education and future care,” Dhull said.
The Centre and NCPCR took cognizance of the matter and wrote to the chief secretary, Haryana, to take action against the home, an NCPCR official said.
“We had received the complaint from Gurgaon CWC on January 13 and we have asked the secretary, Haryana, to take action on the report,” Yashwant Jain, member NCPCR, said.
The district administration has found a committee to look into the matter. The district child protection unit officers visited the CCI but Lily Baretto was out of town and did not respond to their notices.
Vinay Pratap Singh, additional deputy commissioner, Gurgaon, said, “We have formed a committee comprising the district child protection officer, protection officer of institutional care and social workers. They have conducted an inquiry on Ujjwal Niketan CCI and will submit the report before January 31.”
Sister Lily Baretto, however, said the allegations were baseless. “I am not involved in any kind of illegal activities. The two minors were released for adoption through legal proceedings and a lawyer was involved in the same. I was not aware that I should have produced the children before the CWC, that’s my only fault. These girls were not staying in our CCI. They were staying with Mamta and were directly given to my relatives for adoption,” she said.