Failing to see any response from the Centre, the Punjab and Haryana high court has directed it to inform within a week as to what decision it had taken on Haryana government’s request for handing over the infamous Rohtak shelter home – Apna Ghar – child abuse case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The division bench comprising acting Chief Justice Jasbir Singh and justice Rakesh Kumar Jain said that since it is a matter with serious allegations against the “high and mighty” and “if not handed over to the special investigation agency then the investigations may not be upto mark”. If the centre government is not taking any decision then the court would be compelled to pass appropriate orders, said the bench.
Haryana government had formally decided to hand over the case to CBI on June 15 and had made a request to the centre government.
A total of 103 children were residing in Apna Ghar headed by Jaswanti Devi and run by non-governmental organization Bharat Vikas Sangh in Shri Nagar Colony, Rohtak.
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had conducted a surprise raid at the shelter home on May 10 after which the case had come to light.
Later a four member advocates’ committee constituted by the high court had submitted in its report after interviews of 101 inmates that they were subjected to sexual assault, brutal beating, starvation, naked parade, pornography, forcible abortions, forceful intoxication by the caretaker Jaswanti Devi, her relatives, outsiders and also the policemen.
Taking grave notice of the case and evidences on record, the bench directed the secretary, union ministry of personnel, public grievances and pensions to take an appropriate decision in the matter immediately.
The court also directed the secretary of Haryana women and child development department to inform the court as to what steps the department had taken to rehabilitate the Apna Ghar inmates. The bench also ordered that if any medical aid is required to be provided to any of the inmates, it should be done immediately.
During the hearing of the case, the special investigating team (SIT) constituted by the Haryana government submitted its report as well as the medical examination reports of 101 Apna Ghar inmates to the court in two sealed covers.
However, members of high court appointed committee alleged that the SIT members were bent upon to destroy the evidences in the case.
During the arguments, the bench also questioned one of the members (SSP) of the SIT whether, as suggested by the advocate’s committee ealier, the SIT had checked the marriage CD of Jaswanti’s daughter Simmi’s marriage to establish who all were connected with Jaswanti. To this, the SSP replied in negative but said that they had some photos of Simmi’s marriage. On this the bench directed that the SIT should contact the photographer hired for the marriage.
The SSP also told the court that the SIT had arrested three persons, sealed bank accounts of Jaswanti and others, recorded statements of various persons before the magistrate, and confiscated four mobiles of Jaswanti and other persons of the management. He said that the SIT had filed two phone details with its report. When the bench asked about Jaswanti’s frequent communication with some particular person, the SSP replied that the SIT was still trying to find it out.
The case has been adjourned for next hearing on July 19.