Court asks Legal Services Secretaries to inspect them for deficiencies

The Madras High Court has directed the Secretaries of the Legal Services Authority of Virudhunagar, Tirunelveli and Kancheepuram to inspect nearly 25 Children’s Homes in their districts and check whether there are any deficiencies and file a report within four weeks.

The First Bench comprising the Acting Chief Justice R.K.Agrawal and Justice M.Sathyanarayanan passed the interim order on petitions by one A.Narayanan of Virugambakkam here, a social activist.

Mr.Narayanan said though the official authorities took a stand that all deficiencies in the Homes had been rectified, the fact remained that several deficiencies had not been set right. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act and the rules had not been implemented in letter and spirit. He sought an interim direction to set right things.

He said a “fact-finding sample study” of the Homes in Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram, Krishnagiri, Tirunelveli and Virudhunagar districts in May/June last year exposed several glaring shortcomings.

For instance, an orphanage home in Tiruvallur district was unregistered. But, it claimed to take care of orphaned and abandoned children. In a Home in Virudhunagar district, the study found that a minor girl was alleged to have been regularly sexually abused by the husband of a warden. Though they were arrested, the Home was still functioning under the same warden and her assistant.

In Tirunelveli district, there were eight Homes run by NGOs without the mandatory registration. Such violations were found in Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts also.

Mr.Narayanan said that many childcare institutions escaped mandatory registration under the Juvenile Justice Act under the guise of hostels and short stay homes.

The Bench said though deficiencies had been pointed out in respect of five districts it deemed it fit that in respect of the shortcomings in Virudhunagar, Tirunelveli and Kancheepuram districts, the Secretaries of the district legal services authority concerned should inspect the Homes in question and find out whether the deficiencies pointed out had been rectified.

The court posted the matter for further hearing on July 8.