The Superintendent or any representative of the Sri Chitra Home administration failed to turn up at the office of the Kerala Legal Services Authority (KLSA) on Friday, for the hearing on a complaint filed by a group of residents of the home on April 29. The Principal Sub Judge, who is hearing the case, directed the Superintendent to appear before him on May 13.
Nine girls from the home, who were part of the group which raised the complaint, had turned up at the KLSA office on Friday morning. But according to sources, three others, who are minors, were initially denied permission to attend the hearing. They were later allowed to attend, following pressure from the others.
The residents had levelled a range of allegations against the administration, ranging from ill-treatment by the administrative staff and mismanagement in the daily running of the home.‘The other side too’
“The allegations are serious, but a decision can be taken only after hearing the administration’s version,” said A. Shahjahan, Principal Sub Judge of the KLSA.
When contacted by The Hindu, the Home’s Superintendent Eliamma Varghese said she received the copy of the complaint only on Thursday evening.
“I received a copy of the complaint only at 5 p.m. on Thursday. Since we need time to go through it and produce the relevant documents, I did not attend the hearing,” said Ms. Varghese.
In an effort to buy time, the home administration had sent a hurried communication to the KLSA on Thursday asking for an extension of the hearing by ‘one month.’ A meeting of the administrative council of the home, which has not met in the past one-and-a-half years, is scheduled to be held on May 21.
Sources said that the administrative staff had been pressurising the students over the past few days not to give depositions that could damage the reputation of the institution.
One of the major allegations is that all of the residents who have completed the age of 18 are being forced to sign a document agreeing for marriage.
There have been no background checks of the prospective grooms before fixing a marriage. Those who disagree to marriage proposals are threatened to be shifted out of the home, the complainants allege.
Those who are working at various institutions outside the home have to form a joint account with the superintendent to deposit their salary.
Another allegation is that residents who fail in even one subject in the tenth standard are not being allowed to sit for the ‘Save A Year’ examination. The children are made to do the cleaning and other works inside the home. The ones who are working at the printing and tailoring sections of the home are paid a meagre salary. The residents are also not provided enough dresses and other items for daily use, the complainants allege.