The Madras High Court has directed the authorities to inspect Child Welfare Homes (CWHs) in all districts in the State to find out whether the facilities were recognised or unrecognised. They should file a statement containing the number of children in each home in each district and the steps taken to rehabilitate them.
The First Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice R. K. Agrawal and Justice N. Paul Vasanthakumar passed the interim order on a petition by A. Narayanan, a social activist.
Mr. Narayanan submitted that in order to effectively prevent inter-State trafficking of children in the guise of running orphanages, to protect such children from exploitation and to ensure that justice was done to those who had been trafficked in the recent past, there was a need for a detailed and time-bound investigation by the CBI’s Anti-Human Trafficking Unit.
In an additional affidavit, the petitioner said several CWHs were functioning in Tamil Nadu where children were not given proper care and were not being produced before the Child Welfare Committee as required under Section 32 (1) of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000.
He alleged that the Director-General of Police, Tamil Nadu, had not made any effort to unravel the entire mystery, including identification of all middlemen from Odisha and Tamil Nadu who were part of a recent child-trafficking racket, their specific motives and modus operandi and other inter-State players in child trafficking.
Apart from the 18 children who were trafficked from Odisha to Sirumugai in Coimbatore district and then to Kanyakumari, another 19 were kept in illegal custody in a small room of an unregistered children’s home at Sirumugai without basic amenities and education.
The children were kept illegally for almost two years. The district police and the Social Welfare Department knew about this.
Referring to the police’s counter affidavit, Mr. Narayanan said it could be inferred that the DGP had not made any effort to find out why no action was taken for the past two years and how this home escaped inspection by the police along with the Social Defence Department to collect details of unregistered homes.