The Bombay High Court has directed the Maharashtra government to file a report on steps taken by it to improve the condition of children’s homes in the state.
A division bench of justices A S Oka and P N Deshmukh was hearing a suo-motu public interest litigation on the poor condition of children’s homes and the homes for children with special needs in the state, established under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.
The high court had in April last year passed directions to the state government and said it was the government’s legal and constitutional obligation to set up an adequate number of such homes and provide them appropriate infrastructure and facilities.
Amicus curiae, one who assists the court, Asha Bajpai, also a social activist, recently informed the high court that the government has not complied with its directions until now.
“We direct the appropriate officer of the state government to file a reply placing on record the details of compliance with the various directions issued under the order of April 2017,” the court said in its recent order.
The court directed the government to file the affidavit on January 30, when it would hear the petition.
There are 27 homes for children with special needs in the state, of which six are exclusively for girls, 14 for boys and seven for both.
In the April 2017 order, the high court had directed the government to ascertain with the help of Maharashtra State Coordination Committee for Child Protection how many more such homes are required.
The court had asked the government to take an appropriate decision within four months and also to establish the requisite number of homes expeditiously. It had also directed the government to ensure that a managing committee is constituted for every children’s home.
It also termed the monetary grant released by the government to such homes and the children housed there as “arbitrary and violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.”
The court had asked the government to take a decision on increasing the grant.
The bench had also ordered for the child welfare committees to be constituted in each district.