Delhi HC directs authorities to conduct periodic inspection in child care institutions | The Financial Express

Delhi HC directs authorities to conduct periodic inspection in child care institutions

Laying down guidelines, the court said that data concerning the number of functioning CCIs and the children residing there should be collected.

Delhi HC directs authorities to conduct periodic inspection in child care institutions
The high court has asked authorities to conduct periodic inspection and file a report before it.

The Delhi High Court (HC) has directed the authorities concerned to monitor the functioning of Child Care Institutions (CCIs) taking note of “apathy” in the functioning of these institutes and the absence of a “conducive environment” for the children living there. The high court has asked authorities to conduct periodic inspection and file a report before it.

According to the official statement, Justice Subramonium Prasad, while passing a slew of guidelines on the functioning of CCIs under the Juvenile Justice Act, said that “there is a complete lack of direction and initiative” in guiding the children in such institutions towards a better future.

Justice Prasad said “it is unfortunate to observe that the apathy of the authorities is seeping through the cracks and hampering the development of those who are at the age wherein they require consistent nourishment: mental, physical and nutritional”.

The court, which was dealing with a plea concerning the “recurrent running away of young girls” from a CCI, observed that there was “clearly a certain dissatisfaction which incited their need to escape” from there.

“Even though the legal framework for ensuring proper functioning of the CCIs is in place, this Court can take judicial notice of the apathy in the functioning of the CCIs and the failure on the part of the CCIs in not providing a conducive environment for the children housed at the CCIs,” said the court in its order dated September 28.

Calling it a “sorry state of affairs which requires rectification at the earliest”, the court said that shortage of funds cannot be an excuse for non-implementation of the statutory provisions and there was a need to provide “individualised quality standards of care” to the children.

“The Secretary, Department of Women and Child Development, and the Chairperson, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, is directed to conduct periodic meetings at least once every three months to monitor the functioning of the CCIs. They shall also ensure periodic inspection of all CCIs in Delhi, which must be conducted at least once in three months.

The report of the functioning of every CCI and the Minutes of Meeting conducted by the Secretary – Department of Women and Child Development and the Chairperson – Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, shall be filed in this Court twice a year, on every 31st July and 31st January of each calendar year,” the court directed.

Laying down guidelines, the court said that data concerning the number of functioning CCIs and the children residing there should be collected and analysed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development for the purposes of introspection as well as for the improvement of services.

It also called for the formulation of “Individual Care Plans” keeping in view the psychological and physical capabilities of the child as well as the future aspirations of the child and history.

The court said that there should also be a “gender-neutral education plan with special emphasis on reproductive health” for residents of ages 11-18 years, use of technology, and provisions for recreational activities.

“It is also pertinent to note that at no juncture can a CCI be made to resemble a detention centre or a prison; the atmosphere at a CCI should be akin to that of a nurturing home,” the court said.

“It is the constitutional obligation of the State to ensure that for safeguarding and fostering the rights of children, adequate funds are available, particularly for CNCPs. The State cannot conflate non-availability of funds to shirk their obligations with inefficient utilisation of grants,” it asserted.

The court also emphasised access to healthcare, including mental healthcare, and round-the-clock helpline in CCIs, and taking suggestions of the children living there. “CCI’s must ensure that children, especially older adolescent children, are given an effective right to be heard. Mechanisms should be created to enable children in CCIs to participate in decisions concerning their health, including placement, treatment, among others, and to demonstrate that their views are respected and given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity,” it said.

With inputs from PTI

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