On Delhi HC orders, police book NGO Prem Dham Ashram on sexual exploitation charge

The NGO came under the scanner following a surprise inspection by Child Welfare Committee members on July 19.

Written by Abhishek Angad , Aneesha Mathur | New Delhi | Published:September 10, 2016 2:32 am

Police registered a case Friday against NGO Prem Dham Ashram based in southwest Delhi’s Najafgarh under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act, and Mental Health Act on the directions of the Delhi High Court.

The NGO came under the scanner following a surprise inspection by Child Welfare Committee (CWC) members on July 19. The NGO houses children of persons affected with leprosy and single mothers, said sources. It also houses mentally challenged women and has an old age home, the sources added.

The matter came to light after the NGO filed a plea in the high court, claiming that the CWC had “arbitrarily” passed an order to transfer all children living in their home to a different facility. However, the counsel for the Women and Child Development department had showed the court copies of photographs taken by CWC members during their inspection. The high court, taking the note of photographs, observed that some of the female inmates were either half-naked or naked and that too “in the presence of male children”.

The court passed orders to the NGO to “forthwith hand over the children” to the CWC for transfer to an appropriate child care home. The court also directed police to investigate the allegations, including those of sexual exploitation, against the NGO.

A welfare officer at the NGO said Friday the male children and women that the CWC members had seen together were mentally challenged and together in an emergency situation. “Construction was going on and three mentally challenged children were moved to the premises of mentally challenged women for a while. Suddenly, CWC officials came and took the photographs,” said Deepa, the welfare officer.

DCP (southwest) Surender Kumar said the case was registered under sections 11/12 (Sexual Harassment/ Punishment for sexual harassment) and 16/17 (Abetment of an offence/ Punishment for attempt to commit an offence) of the POCSO Act and 6/85 (Establishment or maintenance of psychiatric hospitals of psychiatric nursing homes only with licence). “We have called the founder and the attendant for questioning.” Sources said police had got 22 mentally challenged women at the facility medically examined and there were no signs of sexual exploitation. Police declined to comment on this.