The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that it recommended action against the two children’s homes linked to activist Harsh Mander only after finding various violations and discrepancies on part of the management. One of the violations mentioned by NCPCR in its reply to the court is that they were informed by the children that they had been taken to protest sites, including Jantar Mantar.
The reply was submitted in response to a petition filed by two children’s homes — run by the Centre for Equity Studies (CES), where Mander is a Director — for quashing of the inspection reports of the NCPCR.
“During the inspection, prima facie many violations of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and its Model Rules, 2016 and various other irregularities came to the notice of NCPCR, including financial irregularities as the institution was reluctant in disclosing their sources of funding and other relevant document to the inspection team,” NCPCR said in the reply.
NCPCR further said that a complaint had been received from one Kalinga Rights Forum, alleging violations of the Juvenile Justice Act at the two homes. The complainant had alleged that children from “only a particular religion” were being housed in the homes and that CES was receiving “hefty funds” which were being “used for illicit activities like religious conversion”, the national body said in its reply.
The alleged violations mentioned by NCPCR in the reply include: the registration of one of the homes had expired at the time of inspection; staff and infrastructure was found inadequate; foreign nationals on employment and tourist visas were permitted to give voluntary services at the homes; and the institutions were not practicing age-segregation among children.
With regard to the boys home, the NCPCR in its reply also told the court that one of the employees had “informed” it about child sexual abuse cases being reported there, and inaction by the management. “The Commission observed this to be a gross violation of the provisions of the POCSO Act, 2012 and had immediately reported this to Delhi Police for further investigation as well,” it said.
NCPCR also said that funds were being received from “multiple sources” by the institutions and that the CES had failed to disclose that funds were being received from Rainbow Foundation India and Association for Rural and Urban Needy (ARUN) under the Rainbow Homes Program.
In October 2020, the NCPCR had raided the children’s homes and, according to Mander, allegedly sought to know whether the children had participated in the anti-CAA protests; regarding his association with them; about any foreign funding; and whether shelter was given to Rohingya children at the two places.
In a report in January 2021, the NCPCR said that during the inspections, it observed many violations of the Juvenile Justice Act and other various irregularities at the two homes, including instances of child sexual abuse at the home for boys. The allegations were denied by CES, which described it as an attempt to malign its reputation and that of its director, Mander.
In a reply, the Delhi Commission for Protection Child Rights (DCPCR) defended the two homes and said they were adhering to most norms. The NCPCR responded that the DCPCR inspection had taken place after its own inspection.