The Gujarat High Court has asked the state government to file a detailed reply to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Peace and Equality Cell (PEC) on the state of Nari Sanrakshan Gruh. The government’s ealier reply was silent on the reasons behind the women’s homes lying ignored.
This newspaper had reported about the inside story of the state of women inmates after nine girls fled the home after which PEC filed a PIL in the HC in November 2014 demanding setting up of an inquiry committee. The monitoring officer from the Commissionerate of Women and Child Development, Naran Limbaji Pandor filed an affidavit in reply to the PIL stating as per government resolution on August 19, 2014 the issues with reference to women’s welfare are now handed over to women and child development department and not Social Justice and Empowerment Department that was looking after women homes earlier.
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In his reply (a copy of which is with The Indian Express), Pandor while describing on the escape of the nine girls who are the custodian of the women’s home and state government stated, “…. as far as the instances dated October 7, 2014 is concerned, women had run away from the nari sankrashn gruh of which seven have returned. I say that out of these 10 women for were above the age of 18 whose family members are not ready to accept them, 2 are suffering from mental illness and therefore, are not able to give details of their family, 1 has run away from her uncle’s house and is now residing at Nari Sankrakshan Gruh, Odhav, 1 girl is an orphan and had certain love affairs, 1 girl is from a different state and therefore, police authorities have been approached to arrange for escort and carried out required formalities, one girl had refused to go with her parents and thereafter ran away”.
The petitioner Prita Jha had stated in the PIL that the girls and women were living in inhuman living conditions …”they defecate and urinate in open, no sanitation is provided to them. There is also no staff to look after mentally challenged women. Women, who live on the ground floor, who can be termed as ‘normal women’, are forced to clean the mentally challenged women periodically….”.
The petitioner further stated that mental patients and HIV patients live together with other women at the home and no medical aid is provided. Other issues of indefinite stay period of women, keeping women of different age groups and mental illness (who have different needs) together and a lock-up kind of stay on the first and second floor, provide no sense of security or freedom to the inmates. The women have no access to education or vocational training, as per her petition.
The state government claimed in their reply that there are two doctors who visit the mentally ill patients on a monthly basis and sufficient bathrooms have been provided in the home. Pandor stated in his reply that women facing social stigma live on the ground floor while mental patients are on the second and clean bedding and food is provided.
Pandor further said in the reply, “…the whole objective of nari sanrakshan gruh is for the uplliftment and development of women, especially, those, who are suffering from mental illness. The facilities provided are kept as good as possible but, at times because of sudden inflow some temporary hitches are unavoidable…”.
The petitioner has now requested for copies of the reports submitted by various committees on inspection of women’s home and other shelters and action taken by government on the reports. The petitioner has further asked for the expenditures incurred by the state for maintaining the shelter as claimed by the government in their reply, rules of admission to such shelters and details of women’s homes in the state, whether they are running on trust, grant or government and the authority responsible for their welfare.
Advocate Megha Jani said, “The HC has asked the state government to file a detailed reply to points raised by the petitioner in the rejoinder filed on state government’s affidavit in reply to the PIL. The government has been also asked to submit the documents sought by the petitioner”.