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Manipur High Court directs inspection committees constituted by the state Government for inspection of Child Care Institutes

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The Manipur High Court directed the Inspection Committees constituted by the State Government for inspection of Child Care Institutions (CCIs) in all districts, shall make periodic inspection of all the homes every three months and submit report in this regard to the Director, Social Welfare Department, Government of Manipur and to the Secretary, Juvenile Justice Committee, High Court of Manipur.

The Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice MV Muralidaran and Justice A. Guneshwar Sharma closed a Suo Moto Public Interest Litigation (PIL) initiated by the High Court on its own motion consequent to a report in daily newspaper dated 13.04.2022 in news item under the caption “Children Home inmate thrashed brutally.” It was reported that three inmates of Destitute Children Home, run by respondent No. 3 at Ukhrul, were thrashed by senior inmates on 09.04.2022 for going out of the campus without permission and loitering elsewhere and also on the next day, i.e., on 10.04.2022, the warden (respondent No. 4) also punished the three inmates with sticks.

The Court issued notice on 18.04.2022 to the respondents. Vide order dated 23.05.2022, this Court observed that the affidavit filed by respondent Nos. 3 & 4 is not in compliance of the direction of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in [Exploitation of Children in Orphanages in the State of Tamil Nadu In Re: Vs. Union of India & Others reported in (2017) 7 SCC 578]. Thereafter, additional affidavits have been filed by respondent Nos. 3 & 4. Respondent No. 1 & 2 (State of Manipur and The Manipur Commission for Protection of Child Rights ) also filed their affidavit-in-opposition.

Mr. Kh. Tarunkumar, senior counsel, has pointed out that the affidavit-in-opposition dated 18.07.2022 of the State Government did not indicate whether the direction of the Supreme Court in paras 108.2, 108.6 and 108.9 of the aforesaid judgment have been complied with or not. Thereafter, the State Government filed additional affidavits dated 10.11.2022, 16.02.2023 and 19.04.2023 enumerating various steps taken up by the State Government in compliance with the direction of the Supreme Court as well as direction of the Court.

In the affidavit-in-opposition of respondent Nos. 3 & 4, they have admitted the incident and stated that some senior inmates punished the three junior inmates as they leave the home without any permission and without knowing this fact, the warden also punished the three inmates on the next day. It is also stated that the children have been counseled and they were given proper medical treatment. The delinquent senior inmates were also given separate counseling to realize their own wrongdoing and warned not to repeat the same. It was also stated that the management has removed the warden for the wrong committed by him and they have also undertaken that such action would never occur in future. On having the information, respondent No. 2-MCCPR also made enquiry and the inspection team comprising of members of the Commission and the Chairperson as well as two members of the CWC, Ukhrul gave its findings on 20.04.2022 and the Commission is monitoring the case.

A spot enquiry was conducted by the Program Officer (SCPS), CNCP along with the District Child Protection Unit (DCPU), Ukhrul District, regarding the assault to three minor inmates of the children home and in its report dated 17.04.2022 .

In the additional affidavit dated 10.11.2022 filed by respondent No. 1, it is stated that direction Nos. 108.2, 108.6 and 108.9 of the Supreme Court in (2017) 7 SCC 578 have been complied with, as such 86 Child Care Institutions (CCIs) funded under “Mission Vatsalya” Child Protection Services (CPS) Scheme and 59 Non-funded Child Care Institutions (CCIs) have been registered; the State Government constituted State Level and District Level Inspection Committee for Child Care Institutions (CCIs) and the Social Welfare Department has been organizing the training programmes for various stakeholders as required by the JJ Act in association with Manipur State Legal Services Authority and Manipur Judicial Academy and also nominated participants for attending the training programmes organized by National Institute of Public Co-operation & Child Development, New Delhi & National Institute of Public Co-operation & Child Development Regional Centre, Guwahati.

In the additional affidavit dated 16.02.2023, the fact stated in the additional affidavit dated 10.11.2022 have been reiterated and also stated that inspection has been started and spot enquiry was conducted. Apart from that, every Child Care Institutions (CCIs) funded under “Mission Vatsalya” Child Protection Services (CPS) Scheme have constituted Home Management Committee (HMC) under section 39 of the JJ Act, 2015 in which the District Protection Officer (DCPO) of the respective District is the Chairperson monitoring and supervision of the overall functioning of the CCI.

The additional affidavit dated 19.04.2023 was filed by respondent No. 1 in terms of the order dated 21.02.2023 passed by the Court .

During the course of hearing, M. Devananda, Additional Advocate General, Manipur, appearing for respondent No. 1, submits that the PIL may be closed on the basis of the three affidavits mentioned above, specially the affidavit dated 19.04.2023 as the State Government have complied with the directions passed by this Court as well as the direction passed by the Supreme Court reported in (2017) 7 SCC 578.

RS Reisang, senior counsel, also submits that the destitute home is now running as per Rule and in compliance of all necessary directions and the unfortunate incident is not repeated. Kh. Tarunkumar, learned senior counsel, also submits that the PIL may be closed with a direction that there shall be periodic inspection of the home every three months by the committee constituted by the State Government and a report of such inspection be submitted to the Director, Social Welfare, Government of Manipur and Secretary, Juvenile Justice Committee, High Court of Manipur, in terms of the direction of the Hon’ble Supreme Court reported in (2017) 7 SCC 578.

The Court has heard the counsel appearing for the parties and perused the material documents, specially the affidavits filed by the State Government. The Bench was satisfied that the directions of the Supreme Court in the case reported in (2017) 7 SCC 578 and other directions given by this Court have been substantially complied with by the State Government as well as by the Home.

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