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The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) has not conducted a single inspection in any of the children homes in the city since 2015, in the absence of any permanent members. This includes government-run children homes in Asha Kiran and Nirmal Chhaya.
Asha Kiran Home for the mentally-ill was in the news recently after 11 of its inmates died within a span of two months, allegedly after eating spurious food. According to an RTI reply, no inspection has been carried out in any children homes or orphanages since September 2015, as there are no members to conduct the inspections.
The inspections are important considering that many homes face allegations of poor conditions, including serving inadequate or stale food, poor hygene conditions and abuse. The last inspection carried out at the children home in Asha Kiran was in February 2015. At Nirmal Chhaya, the last inspection was carried out in May 2015.
While four members completed their tenure in July 2015, one member completed his tenure in September 2015. Since then, only the chairperson and one consultant have been looking into the cases.
A former member said the inspections include checking living conditions, winter preparedness and manpower requirement, which also encompasses visits to government-run and private-run homes. According to the RTI reply, the chairperson, who retired in February this year, did not make a single recommendation to any institution between 2015 and 2017.
The body is currently headless, given the crucial time of nursery admissions. According to government sources, of all the complaints that the DCPCR receives in a year, a large chunk pertains to nursery admissions and the Right to Education (RTE) Act.
According to the Delhi government, DCPCR is mandated to look into complaints or take suo motu notice in cases involving violation of constitutional and legal rights of children, and monitor implementation of laws and programmes relating to the survival, welfare and development of children.
It is further mandated to examine and review the safeguards provided by any law for the protection of child rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation in the best interest of the children, and inspect any juvenile custodial home or any other place of residence or institution meant for children.
“The process to appoint a new chairperson is complete. He/she will be appointed as soon as the model code of conduct is lifted after the municipal elections. The posts of the other members fell vacant as their terms came to an end,” a government spokesperson said. However, no explanation for the long delay in filling the posts was given. According to a reply filed by the government in the SC, the file for the appointment of a chairperson has been sent to the L-G for approval. Child rights activists, however, point out how DCPCR’s functioning has been severely hit.
“Without a single member on the panel since September 2015, the body has not managed to do much. Even the chairperson has failed to make a single visit to any childrens’ home and issue recommendations to the government to improve functioning,” Yogesh Kumar, director, Association for Development, said.