The HC, in a 78-page judgement, directed the state to determine the number of children’s shelters, especially Mentally Deficient Children (MDC) homes, that need to be set up in Maharashtra, and said the government is obliged to establish and maintain these homes with necessary infrastructure in an expeditious manner.
The court directed the state to ensure that adequate grants are released to the homes. To increase these grants, it has instructed the court-appointed committee to make recommendations to the government. “By way of interim measure, till the Government takes a final decision, we propose to direct the state to pay grant at the rate of Rs 2,000/ per head per month to the MDC Homes and grant of Rs 1,500/ per head per month to the other Children’s Homes. We also propose to direct the State Government to pay grant of Rs 500/ per head per month towards administration expenses,” the HC said.
A division bench of Justices A S Oka and A A Sayed was hearing a 2010 suo motu PIL on the poor condition of children’s homes in the state, in particular MDC homes, and had appointed Asha Bajpai, the then Chairperson of the Centre for SocioLegal Studies and Human Rights, TISS, to assist the court as amicus curiae.
In the order, the court has also told the judicial officer to forward inspection reports of these homes to the committee. The court has stressed on compulsory education to all the children in these homes, apart from evolving a scheme to accommodate children who attain 18 years.
“Necessary protection will have to be granted to the said children. Due to the orders passed by this Court, some of the mentally challenged children are in a position to attend formal schools. Even such child will have to be protected by the State Government as they will have to leave their respective MDC Homes for attending their respective schools. The State Government shall ensure that necessary protection is granted to the children who are either victims of the offences or who are witnesses in terms of the protection granted to the victims and/or witnesses as per the prevailing policy,” the court held.