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The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that 15 minor girls have been rescued from a Shelter Home in Tiruvannamalai district of Tamil Nadu following complaints of sexual abuse against the In-Charge of the Home. The In-Charge of the Shelter Home has been arrested under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The rescued girls have been shifted to a government facility and further investigation in the case is underway.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the news report, if true, amount to violation of human rights of the victim minor girls. Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, Tamil Nadu calling for a detailed report in the matter, within four weeks including action taken against the guilty and steps taken for relief, rehabilitation and counseling of the victims.

It has also observed that this is not the single incident of its kind which has come to the notice of the Commission. In the recent past the Commission has come across several incidents of such nature, occurred in various parts of the country, where the girl inmates have been sexually abused in custody either by staff or the persons who run the Shelter Homes. The incidents of sexual abuse of innocent minor girls at the hands of their custodian, are shameful and also call for review of the monitoring mechanism by the state authorities. The police and the social welfare departments of the states have to come together to ensure strict compliance of the procedure laid down under law with regard to running Shelter Homes, especially for the women.

According to the media report, carried on the 30th January, 2019, the District Collector, reportedly visited the Home and sealed the premises. The issue came to light as some of the inmates informed the authorities about alleged sexual abuse by the accused, during a safety campaign. Reportedly, the victims have alleged in writings that the In-Charge of the Home, made them watch pornographic content before abusing them.

[Press Release dt.: 01-02-2019]

NHRC

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Madan B. Lokur, Deepak Gupta and KM Joseph, JJ., in its order regarding the horrific chain of events that transpired in the shelter home in State of Bihar, had issued a few directions in its earlier order and has again expressed deep concern in this regard on hearing out the submissions of the learned Amicus Curiae.

In the present order, the Supreme Court bench clearly stated that the point of concern majorly is about the protection of children, particularly girls in homes run by NGOs. The learned Amicus Curiae has submitted that:

  • NIMHANS, Bengaluru should address the mental and psychiatric health of the children in shelter home.
  • Clinical and Medical aspect to be addressed by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Patna.
  • Rehabilitation and re-integration of the children should be left to be addressed by TISS.

All the above-stated suggestions of the Amicus Curiae were accepted by the Supreme Court and the bench directed all the above authorities to prepare a brief course of action and place it on record. Further, the Court required the Ministry of Women and Child Development to inform the steps to be taken in order to ensure that the sexual abuse of children does not take place in the shelter homes and other child care homes across the country.

The Bench reiterated its discussion in regard to no publication of the photographs of the victims of sexual abuse in electronic, print and social media. Also, no interviews of such victims should take place. Another point noted was the revelation of the victim’s identity by one of the accused’s wife in the Muzaffarpur incident for which Amicus Curiae shall disclose all the other names who have done so, and in accordance to law appropriate action shall be taken against them.

The matter is listed for 14-08-2018. [Sampurna Behrua v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 928, Order dated 07-08-2018]