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Himachal High Court issues notice to State government over violation of human rights at a children’s home

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Representational file image.

Representational file image.
| Photo Credit: Reuters

The Himachal Pradesh High Court has issued a notice to the State government, among others, seeking a reply on the alleged gross violation of human rights of children at an observation cum special home situated in Shimla.

The court issued the notice on May 20 based on a letter, which it treated as a public interest litigation (PIL), and has sought a reply from the respondents within four weeks. The order was passed by Justice Vivek Singh Thakur and Justice Rakesh Kainthla.

The other respondents include the Director, State Women and Child Development Department; the District Programme Officer; the Superintendent of the observation home; and three of its employees — the cook, the kitchen helper, and the security guard.

Ajai Srivastava, chairman of the Umang Foundation, an organisation working for the protection of human rights, in a letter to the Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, M.S. Ramchandra Rao, had raised the plight of the inmates at the State-run correctional home at Hira Nagar in Shimla.

Urging the court to intervene, Mr. Srivastava wrote that the observation home at Hira Nagar seemed to defeat the basic purpose of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, and the Indian Constitution, and hence the court should “save the children in conflict with the law at the Observation Home”.

It has been alleged that about a dozen inmates lodged at the home were being treated badly. The letter was based on the ordeal of a child who was recently restored to his family. Mr. Srivastava said that the staff members, including the cook, kitchen helper and security guard, resorted to thrashing the boy and other inmates on several occasions. Also, they often remained under the influence of alcohol while on duty.

“The inmates were beaten normally in the office of the Superintendent or at a place which is not under the surveillance of CCTV camera. Sometimes, the cameras were switched off before beating the children,” the letter said, adding that the food provided to the children was of poor quality.

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