The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to conduct an enquiry into allegations of trafficking in children from Manipur and Assam to Tamil Nadu on the promise of giving them good education and health care.

A three-judge Bench comprising Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, Justice Deepak Verma and Justice B. S. Chauhan asked the Commission to complete the probe in four weeks and submit a report and posted the matter for further hearing in May.

The CJI said, “There was need for some investigation as children belonging to the poor families from north-eastern regions were lured by some illegal organisations on the pretext of providing better education.

It also appears that in the name of providing better education, some organisations must be getting foreign aid. Initially, they admit children and on that basis receive huge grant and invest some part of it on the children.”

The Bench was hearing a petition relating to illegal trafficking in 76 children from Assam and Manipur. The court after taking on record an affidavit filed by the Tamil Nadu government asked the State to furnish the names of the children who were rescued from the orphanage.

Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising and advocate Aparna Bhat, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae in the matter, submitted that the matter was of serious concern and wanted some directions from the court to stop such activities. Counsel for Tamil Nadu S. Thananjayan informed the court that the 76 children were rescued from Bethesda Blessing Ministries Home in Kanyakumari district and were handed over to their parents by the State Police.

He said the children were staying at the home since July 2009. In its affidavit, the State said, “The 76 children kept in Bethesda Blessing Ministries Home, Palavilai, Kaliyakkavilai, Kanyakumari district were rescued and taken back to Manipur and Assam and handed over to their parents.”

Investigation had revealed that these children were brought by Rev. Paul, who belonged to the tribal community called `Zeme' in Manipur and Assam. Due to poverty the parents had entrusted their children to Rev. Paul after giving him Rs. 5,000 for each child towards expenditure on the promise that he would provide the children good education and health care.

It was found that these children were brought and kept at the home run by Pastor K. Shaji without adequate facilities and which had no proper living environment. The home was not approved by the government as per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act. Cases were registered and further investigation was on. While Pastor Shaji was arrested, Rev. Paul was absconding and efforts were on to nab him.

Correction

There were two reports (Chennai, April 1, 2010) on the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) being asked to look into allegations of child trafficking. The first (and more detailed) one was “Supreme Court orders national panel probe into trafficking in children” (page 5), while the second was a PTI report titled “Court orders NCPCR to probe trafficking in children” (page 10).

This story is the detailed one

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