Ujjwal Niketan, a child care institute (CCI) which had come under the scanner for releasing two minor girls for adoption without following the necessary procedures underlined under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, was declared illegal by the district administration on Wednesday. The CCI will be removed from the list of child care institutes in the district.
In more trouble,the management of the home is likely to face legal action as the authorities filed a police complaint against them. The action from district administration followed a report in the HT about the plight of inmates at the home and the brazen violation of norms.
Despite several interventions by the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), the officials at the Ujjwal Niketan failed to provide the records of the two minors released for adoption.
The Juvenile Justice Act stipulates that no child could be released for adoption or accepted by CCIs, as the CWC is solely authorised to do so.
“There were many allegations against this CCI, including illegal adoption. There were no records (on the minors illegally adopted) found during the inspection conducted by the district child protection officer. Despite so many chances given to the management and the in-charge, they couldn’t produce the relevant records on the minors,” Vinay Pratap Singh, additional deputy commissioner, said.
“We need to shift the minors and fellow inmates to another home at the earliest as this CCI has been declared illegal. It isn’t just about the quality of food or ambience for the inmates, this home faced serious charges of trafficking, illegal adoption and violation of the JJ Act,” Singh said.
“We have written to the police officers and sought legal action against the in-charge,” Ritu Rani, district child protection officer (DCPO), said.
The department had sent a notice to produce three minors before the CWC. However, Sister Lily Baretto, chairperson of Ujwal Niketan Charitable Trust, wrote back requesting for six months by which time, she assured, the necessary improvements will be done. She had also mentioned about a girl staying at her CCI and due to appear for her board exam next month. She also sought a six-month extension before she is shifted. She has since been allowed to appear for the exam at her school.
The Gurgaon CWC searched the CCI on November 24 and found a letter from Mamta Yadav, who said that she granted custody of her two nieces to Ujjwal Niketan.
The CCI informed the CWC that the two children had been adopted. However, as there was no record available on their whereabouts, the CWC recommended action against the CCI.
Mamta said she was forced to commit the girls to the CCI as she didn’t have enough money to raise them and take care of their expenses. The girls had been living with her since the death of their parents.
The report submitted by the CWC to the deputy commissioner sought an FIR against Sister Baretto on suspicions of child trafficking and sought an investigation by the commissioner.
The CCI was also found to be lacking in proper sanitation. They did not maintain a proper diet chart for children, which is 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 with regard to 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 on who adopted them,” Shakuntala Dhull, chairperson, CWC said.
The children will be shifted to another CCI in Darbaripur and the CWC will ensure their education and future care.