Taking a serious note of a public interest litigation (PIL) alleging physical and mental torture and abuse of special needs kids in Children’s Aid society at Mankhurd, the Bombay High Court has directed the state to file its reply affidavit.
The shelter home is regulated and financed by the government.
A division bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhayaya and Justice Arif Doctor also appointed senior advocate Zubin Behramkamdin and advocate Gulnar Mistry as amicus curiae (friend of the court) considering the serious allegations in the PIL.
PIL filed by Mankhurd resident
“Having regard to the nature of allegations and sensitivity involved in relation to the children’shome where mentally retarded and differently abled young children are residing, we appoint Mr Zubin Behramkamdin, senior advocate, and Gulnar Mistry, a practising advocate of this court as amicus curiae,” the bench said.
The HC was hearing a PIL filed by Mankhurd resident Abhishek Tiwari seeking action against the principal and two staff members of thesociety. It seeks the court to direct judicial inquiry into the allegations. It also seeks that the persons concerned be restrained from destroying the evidence and from threatening the children.
Petitioner’s advocate Ajay Jaiswal submitted that the petitioner had earlier made complaints to the police, the Social Welfare Department and the Women and Child Welfare Department. However, as no action was taken, he approached the high court.
Jaiswal contended that the children in the shelter were physically and mentally abused.
Advocate Himanshu Kode, appearing for the society, informed the court that proper inquiry was made into the allegations and nothing illegal was found.
Not satisfied with the reply, the judges remarked that there was a need for aninvestigation considering the nature of the allegations in the plea.
“The nature of allegations in the petition shocks the conscience,” said Justice Doctor.
Kode said that the police had initially registered a complaint. However, as nothing was found, they did not register an FIR. Hence, he contended that the PIL was not maintainable.
The CJ said: “It pertains to mentally challenged children. File a reply. Let the state say that it has conducted an inquiry. To say the petition itself is not maintainable is not enough.”
Jaiswal alleged that the concerned persons had distorted the evidence. “There are no CCTVs in the premises. Children who had complained have been transferred to another home,” he said.
The HC has directed the state and the shelter home to file their replies in four weeks and kept the PIL for hearing on November 8.