The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the secretary of the Women and Child Development (WCD) department to be present before it to address the issue pertaining to welfare of children of women prisoners. The court also suggested the formation of a special committee of sitting judges that can address the issue by discussing it with every department concerned.
A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice N M Jamdar was hearing a bunch of PILs highlighting the plight of children inside prisons and measures to curb child begging and child labour. The court expressed its dissatisfaction over the state government’s attitude in dealing with such a “serious issue” despite various reports submitted by the NGOs.
“The state has not given its reply satisfactorily. They have not been able to provide the prison-wise statistics on the number of women prisoners, their children and the number of anganwadis to cater to them, which we had sought from the state in the last hearing,” the court said.
Vijay Raghavan, project director of Prayaas, the amicus curie (friend of the court) in the case, had earlier submitted a report with suggestions for the welfare of these children. The court also directed the WCD department to place on record the steps it plans to take regarding these suggestions.
In the last hearing, the court had sought details on the number of children of prisoners lodged across 32 jails and the number of anganwadis around these prisons. The court had also said that the police should have a register to know how many women prisoners have children and whether or not they have any guardian to go to once the parent is in jail. The state government has been asked to file a reply with statistics and details on the welfare measures on June 8.