The Madras High Court Bench in Madurai has ordered the State government to form a committee to probe into alleged abuse of children in a juvenile home at Thanjavur.

The Madras High Court Bench here has ordered the State government to form of a three-member committee to probe into alleged exploitation and abuse of children lodged in a juvenile home at Thanjavur.

Justice T.S. Sivagnanam directed the Social Welfare Department Secretary to form a committee comprising a Government nominee, an eminent social worker with expertise in juvenile care and protection and a representative from an NGO.

The committee was asked to file a report within six months after investigating allegations of child abuse and conducting a detailed inquiry into the facilities available in the juvenile home, the health condition of the inmates and other incidental issues.

The order was passed while dismissing a writ petition seeking an inquiry by the Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department into the death of an employee in the juvenile home on June 8, 2008 after he was assaulted by six inmates.

The son of the deceased claimed that the Superintendent and few other employees of the home had instigated the juveniles to kill his father because the latter had lodged a complaint against them for subjecting the inmates to homosexuality.

Mr. Justice Sivagnanam said that the allegations levelled against employees of the home could not be a ground to transfer the investigation from the local police to the CB-CID. He said investigation could be transferred only in the rarest of rare cases.

Nevertheless, the judge ordered an inquiry by the three-member committee considering the serious nature of complaints. He pointed out that a departmental enquiry had also been conducted against one of the employees.

Quoting Rabindranath Tagore that "Every time a child is born, it brings with it the hope that God is not yet disappointed with man," the judge said that it was time to keep a check on the exploitation of children.

He listed out various international conventions and Central as well as State statutes, promulgated on protecting the rights of children, starting from the Madras Children Act passed in 1920 by the erstwhile Madras Presidency, now Tamil Nadu.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 uses the term ‘home’ to refer to a place where the juveniles were lodged only with the intention to reform the children who require special care and protection, the judge added.

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