The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Delhi government to pay compensation to 10 minor inmates of a government-run children’s home in southeast Delhi, who were allegedly sexually assaulted by the home’s superintendent, so that they can be psychologically rehabilitated.
The NHRC’s order comes after police arrested the 45-year-old superintendent on charges of molestation in June 2016, and registered a case under the POCSO Act.
The home provides shelter to those rescued from trafficking and child labour rackets. As many as 10 girls had accused the superintendent of sexual assault, following which the government had sacked the accused. A woman welfare officer named in the FIR was also dismissed.
In April this year, the NHRC held that “human rights of the victims were grossly violated by a public servant, for which the state be held vicariously liable”. It had recommended that the government pay a compensation of Rs 1 lakh to each girl.
However, following non-compliance, the NHRC asked the government to pay the compensation in six weeks. “Government of NCT of Delhi (must) visualise the matter from a broader angle and conduct psychological rehabilitation of the victims, so they can come out of trauma and live normally.”
However, the government — through the Department of Women and Child Development (WCD) — had replied that “since there were provisions in the POCSO Act for payment of interim compensation, the department had requested the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) to take up the matter”.
To this, the NHRC said: “Irrespective of the steps taken by DSLSA and the order passed by the POCSO court, the state authorities are obliged to pay the compensation to the victims… Let a reminder be sent to the Chief Secretary, Government of Delhi, to submit the required compliance within six weeks. The WCD department secretary must submit an action taken report within the said period.”
It added: “The commission carefully considered the contents of the report. But no response was received from the chief secretary or any other official on his behalf regarding payment of compensation… It might be indicated that the compensation to be given to the victims was ordered under sections of The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.”
The government had found prima facie evidence of assault against the superintendent, and had alleged that the accused used a dance competition as an excuse to take the girls to a room, where he asked them to undress before fondling them. “It was reported that the superintendent took minor girls to an isolated room and tried to physically abuse them… The woman welfare officer was also involved in the misbehaviour,” the government had said.