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Supreme Court Orders Closure of Unregistered Children Homes

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National Legal Research Desk

In a stern message, the Supreme Court today asked the Centre to ensure that unregistered NGOs do not run children homes across the country as they may be indulging in trafficking.

“Some of the girls are used in trafficking and it is possible that some NGOs are involved in trafficking and if State is not checking it, then it too is complicit… Be clear about this. Not a single un-registered NGO will run children homes,” the social justice bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit said.

It asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P S Patwalia, appearing for the Centre, to ensure that shutters are pulled down on the children homes being run by the unregistered NGOs.

Terming child trafficking as a “very serious offence under the law and against the humanity”, it said, closure of unregistered NGOs “is better than being trafficked,” even though the children there will have to be moved out.

The court made it clear there could be no compromise on safety of children lodged at children homes run by unregistered NGOs.

The court was hearing of a PIL filed by Sampurna Behrua on the issue, with an affidavit stating that in Assam there was a big inflow and outflow of small girls from children homes compared to boys from such homes.

The court sought answers from the government on the stark difference between numbers of girls and boys who left these homes. “Why is the number of girls more,” the bench asked and then added, “Nobody knows that.”

Asking the Centre to pull up its socks, the court said, “so far what you have been doing is writing letters. Much more has to be done. There are enough people to keep. There are thousands of NGOs which are genuine and willing to help children in distress“.

The Court in its order stated that ..“We have expressed our concern to learned Additional Solicitor General and he shares our concern, viz., that there is a possibility of trafficking of children if they are kept in unregistered homes and/or with unregistered NGOs. Learned Additional Solicitor General says that the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India is alive to the problem and has already initiated steps to ensure that the homes run by NGOs are registered and he says that the process will be completed in a few months’ time. The Ministry of Women and Child Development will coordinate with all the State”

“Governments/Union Territories to ensure that the unregistered homes are not given any funds unless they are registered. The State Governments/Union Territories will ensure that children in unregistered homes should be shifted to registered homes”.

“Needless to , we expect full cooperation of the State Governments and Union Territories, particularly the Women and Child Department of these Governments as well as the police to ensure that unregistered NGO homes do not house children since it may involve issues of trafficking also. It is for this reason the matter has to be taken up very seriously and learned Additional Solicitor General assures us that the matter will be taken up seriously”.

A copy of this order has been circulated to the Secretary in the Department of Women and Child Development (or corresponding Department) of all the States/Union Territories for information and compliance. The circulation be done by the Registry as also by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India.

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