SC seeks Centre's view on child protection policy

SC seeks Centre's view on child protection policy

A signboard is seen outside the premises of Supreme Court. REUTERS/FILE

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Union government to clarify its stand on the formulation of child protection policy, saying the existing mechanism was "not adequate" to curb incidents of sexual abuse of children and girls at shelter homes.

A three-judge bench of justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta asked the joint secretary of the Ministry of Women and Child Development to appear before it on October 8 to assist in understanding what exactly was proposed to deal with issues such as counselling and rehabilitation of such victims, conditions prevailing at child care institutions and formulation of child protection policy.

The bench was dealing with a case in which 34 girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused in a shelter home run by an NGO at Muzaffarpur in Bihar.

"These 34 girls need counselling. There are many more other girls like this. Somebody has to do something," the bench said.

During the hearing, advocate Aparna Bhat, acting as an amicus curiae, said that a large number of boys and girls have been abused in shelter homes and child care institutions and their rehabilitation was an important issue.

She referred to a similar incident in Andhra Pradesh where 26 children living in a shelter home were abused.

In a related development, the CBI told court that it has recovered the skeleton of a minor girl during the ongoing probe into the Muzaffarpur shelter home case in which several girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused.

The agency said it has interviewed girls who were residing in the shelter home with assistance from experts of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru and needed some more time to talk to them again in view of the facts emerging in the probe.

The court also sought to know if the help of experts from NIMHANS would be required for rehabilitation of the girls.

Meanwhile, the court asked News Broadcasting Standard Authority to respond in how many cases it has taken action against news channels for violating its guidelines in the year 2018.