Our Correspondent / New Delhi
The Supreme Court today expressed serious concern over recent cases of rape and sexual abuse of girls at shelter homes in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
The apex court’s observation came while hearing a matter relating to sexual abuse of children at orphanages.
A bench of justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta while referring to the recent incident at Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh where 26 women have been reported to be missing from shelter homes asked when these horrific incidents will stop.
The apex court on May 5 last year, had passed a slew of directions including setting up of a data base of children living in orphanages and child care institutions to ensure their safety and welfare.
The Court had directed the Centre, state governments and union territories to complete the registration of all child care institutions by the year-end.
The bench directed the Ministry of Women and Child Development to place before it the data they have received from the states including as to how the funds were being utilized and how performance audit was done. The court has posted the matter for hearing on 21st of this month.
“Tell us what is this happening?,” the bench asked while referring to the recent incident at Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh where 26 women have been reported to be missing from shelter homes.
“Yesterday, I read so many women have been raped in Pratapgarh. How will these things stop,” Justice Lokur asked, adding “When it is going to stop?”
Besides Pratapgarh, incidents of rape and sexual abuse of women and girls at shelter homes run by NGOs have also surfaced recently in Muzaffarpur in Bihar and Deoria in Uttar Pradesh.
Advocate Aparna Bhat, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, said that the Centre was supposed to come out with a report on list of child care institutions (CCIs) in the country as well as status of their social audit.
“We cannot do everything unless the government of India appears,” the bench observed while questioning as to why the counsel for the Centre has not appeared in the matter.
Later, advocates on behalf of the Centre, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Women and Child Development appeared before the court.
The bench took exception as to why lawyers were appearing for different ministries and observed that there were so many ministries but that does not mean that separate lawyers would appear for them.
“Only the Ministry of Women and Child Development is required in this case,” the bench said.
The amicus told the bench that the apex court in its last year verdict had asked the Centre to get social audit of all such CCIs conducted through the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
“It appears that the NCPCR has started the exercise but some states are refusing to cooperate with the NCPCR,” the amicus told the bench, adding, that Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were among the states which have not cooperated in the exercise.
“Did they (NCPCR) conducted any social audit in Pratapgarh and Deoria,” the bench asked.
The counsel representing the NCPCR said that the commission was not allowed to conduct social audits in six states — Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Mizoram.