Court‑Ordered Audit of Shelter Homes Paints Bleak Picture
A court-ordered audit of shelter homes across India, initiated in the wake of abuse discovered at such institutions in Deoria and Muzaffarpur, Uttar Pradesh, has grim preliminary findings: Only 54 out of 2,874 shelter homes for children inspected so far meet legal standards, Times of India reports.
These findings follow on the heels of a report that detailed gross negligence at the majority of government-sanctioned specialized adoption homes during inspections earlier this year.
“Even at this preliminary stage, it is emerging from a rapid analysis of data that there are very few institutions that have received positive remarks from various inspection committees or are maintaining proper data as has been mandated under Juvenile Justice Care and Protection of Children Act, 2015,” stated an affidavit by the national commission leading the audit.
The review, which will continue until October 2018, has roughly 6,000 more institutions to inspect. These institutions range from state-registered specialized adoption agencies (SAAs), which house children under age 6 who are eligible for adoption, as well as shelter homes, which could house children and/or people of various ages, for various reasons. Preliminary findings found a dismally low rate of compliance to standards among each type of shelter home inspected, not merely among SAAs or children’s homes.
Given its grim initial findings, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights submitted a preliminary report to facilitate prompt response.
What that response will be is unclear. Currently, in theory if not in practice, six committees spanning national, state and district levels are involved in overseeing these facilities. The court’s impartial advisor in this case is calling for the creation of court-appointed, state- and Centre-level oversight committees to oversee the existing oversight committees. The Centre’s counsel is instead calling for the existing committees and oversight protocols to be strengthened.
The back-and-forth became too much for one judge during the report of the audit’s initial findings.
“Is it the job of the court to correct all ills? The Centre passes the buck to the states. We are very clear. No one is interested in doing anything and the court is helpless. If we do anything, we will be told we are indulging in judicial activism,” Justice Lokur said.
The court isn’t the only group helpless in this scenario — and it has far less on the line than the kids in these shelter homes.