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Supreme Court asks Centre about action taken in cases of child abuse at shelter homes

The Supreme Court, while asking the government to consider framing a child protection policy, observed from 2015 to March last year, 1,575 children were abused and now were living in the shelter homes.

india Updated: Aug 14, 2018 22:38 IST
HT Correspondent
Child abuse in shelter homes,shelter homes,child abuse
A view of the Deoria shelter home from where twenty-four girls were rescued after allegation of sexual exploitation of the inmates came to light. (PTI Photo)

The Supreme Court was shocked to know on Tuesday that 1,575 sexually abused children are living in shelter homes run by NGOs across the country and ordered the Centre to frame a child-protection policy to prevent recurrence of such incidents.

“1,575 boys and girls are victims of sexual and physical abuse. What have you done about it? Which are the shelter homes where they are kept? What action the states have taken on this,” a three-judge bench headed by justice MB Lokur asked additional solicitor general Pinky Anand.

Justice Lokur quoted the figures from a report that was placed before the bench by Anand. The report was based on an all India survey conducted by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) of shelter homes in the country.

According to the survey, 1,289 girls and 286 boys were sexually abused and 189 children were “victims of pornography”. Amicus curiae Aparna Bhat, who is assisting the bench, said after perusing the report that 94% of these homes were run by NGOs.

Anand said the Centre sent the report to states and informed them about it last year.

“It means nothing happened for one year and the children continued to be sexually abused… we are concerned whether children living in shelter homes are being abused or looked after properly,” the judges asked Anand. The bench was hearing a matter related to sexual abuse cases reported from the Muzaffarpur shelter home in Bihar.

The direction to frame a child protection policy was issued after Bhat told the bench that in Muzaffarpur even a child welfare committee member and the district child protection officer were accused of raping minor girls. A social audit by an external agency was important as it exposed the shortcomings in the statutory mechanism.

The Bihar government was directed to make public the social audit report of 111 shelter homes in the state prepared by Tata Institute of Social Sciences after senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, representing Bihar’s Nitish Kumar government, said it had no objection to it. The lawyer said three organizations, including Bangalore-based Parivartan and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, were looking into the psycho-social aspect of the girls allegedly raped at a shelter home.

The court also asked the NCPCR to take into account a note submitted by TISS on how to conduct social audits while conducting such exercises.

First Published: Aug 14, 2018 20:54 IST