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SC takes up case of repatriating minor girls to parents

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The Supreme Court has directed to repatriate three girls to their parents while hearing the plea filed by “Rescue Foundation” against the Bombay High Court order in the case of rescued minor girls from brothels. 

A two judges Bench of apex court in matter of Rescue Foundation v. Senior Police Officer Shahada P.S. and Ors. Dealt with the issue of repatriating the minor girls to their parents.

Sr. Adv Manish Singhvi appeared for state. Balaji Srinivasan appeared for appellant made submission that parents did not even filed FIR, when the girls were missing, and now they have attained majority. Appellant further stated that Five girls are with us, we are providing them training in our shelter home. 

Justice Vineet Saran stated that magistrate says that they are their parents. Counsel of appellant said that there is no doubt that police officials of both state of Maharashtra and Rajasthan have done their job exemplary in respect of minor girls. Mr. Singhvi said that we are only dealing with 9 girls. Five of them minor and four are major.  

The Supreme Court has noted today in its order that, “In compliance of order dated 14.12.2020, four major girls and five minor girls were released after receiving the report from the Chief Judicial Magistrate. By the same order, this Court had directed the Chief Judicial Magistrate to submit the report with regard to the nine other girls named in the said order.”

The bench further noted in compliance thereof, the Chief Judicial Magistrate submitted his report dated 17.03.2021 and found that the documents relating to all the nine girls were authentic after verification.

It said, “The names of the present applicants, Komal, Kajal and Bholeshi @ Bholesee are at Sr. Nos. 5, 7 and 8 of the said report. In view of the same, the applicants, namely, Komal, Kajal and Bholeshi @ Bholesee are directed to be repatriated to their parents. The application (I.A. No. 56098 of 2020) is disposed of accordingly.”

The Court further said the that, “With regard to other six girls, regarding whom also the Chief Judicial Magistrate has submitted his Report, necessary orders shall be passed on the application(s), as and when filed on their behalf. Learned counsel for the petitioner, Mr. Balaji Srinivasan, has submitted that I.A. No. 68872 of 2019 requires necessary orders to be passed. Let the said I.A. be listed in the 2nd week of July before the appropriate Bench.”

The petition was filed by Rescue Foundation in the year 2017, against the Bombay High Court order that out of the 61-women arrested from brothel, eighteen of them are minor girl, nine of the minor girl was in dire need of care. So the High Court had handed over custody of those nine minor girls to one “Child Welfare Committee Nandurbar Chairperson” which in turn hurriedly handed over the custody of those minor girls to their parents who were allegedly responsible for trafficking and selling the nine minor girls to unknown persons. The Apex Court had previously directed the Principal District and sessions judge, Aurangabad to enquire from the minor girls about the particulars of their family, their place of residence and whether they are residing with their parents etc. 

While passing its judgment in the year 2017, The Division bench of High Court of Bombay expressed displeasure over the callous approach adopted by Investigation agency who was entrusted with obligation of investigating in sex trafficking offences. The Bench set aside the order of First class, Judicial Magistrate pertaining to all 18 minor girls, wherein upon the production of six minor girls, the magistrate exercised arbitrary power under section 16 of (1) of the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, 1956 ,directed the Probation Officer to submit a detailed report regarding age, character, antecedents , home conditions etc of victims and guardians and held liable for commiting offence under Section 110 of the Maharashtra Police Act by making obscene gesture in public place. Statement of all 61 females including six girls was commonly recorded and subsequently were awarded sentenced by imposing fine of Rs.1200/- each,, failing which one month of simple imprisonment.  

That on 8.2.2017, Magistrate ordered to hand over all nine abandoned girls to their parents. It was also perceived by the high court that probation officer appointed by government was available and said work was assigned to probation officer of rescue foundation.

Meanwhile, all the girls were kept in Govt.safe custody home at Jaynagar, Shahada at Nandurbar and with Rescue Foundation at Hadapsar,Pune, Bhoisar and Kandivali (Mumbai) under Section 19(2) of the ITP Act vide orders dated 10th January 2017 and 4/2/2017. The medical examination conducted reveals that out of seven girls found in brothel, five were minor and out of 61 female convicted under Sections 110/117 of the Maharashtra Police Act, 13 were minors.

Guardians of those girls filed applications for their custody before the Magistrate and magistrate suo motu took the burden of identifying the parents of such girls. The Bombay High court was also not pleased with the fact that Magistrate did not enquire from persons who were claiming themselves to be their guardian. Furthermore, Magistrate was barred by Jurisdiction to entertain such plea.

“Nine girls should directly be brought to Child Welfare Committee at Nandurabar and section 31 , 32, 37 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection)Act, 2015 shall be followed akin to custody and handing over custody to parents”- as direction issued by the High Court.

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“C.W.C. Should deal with the cases of five girls who were convicted under Sections 110/117 of the Maharashtra Police Act and one girl D.S. who was not found involved in sexual activities, more expeditiously”. – the Bombay High Court issued direction.

The High court also permit C.W.C. Nandurabar to use the certificates issued by Medical Officers regarding the age of the minor girls, but the C.W.C. Shall independently ascertain the identity and addresses of the parents or guardians claiming the custody of these nine minor girls and with due regard to their safety and rehabilitation on the settled guidelines.

Source ILNS

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