To avoid sexual exploitation of minor tribal girls, Bombay High Court constitutes all-women committee

Mumbai: In view to protect hundreds of minor tribal girls, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court on Thursday issued a series of directions, after taking up a matter on ‘urgent’ basis. The HC has constituted a four-member committee to oversee the allegations the affairs of a school-cum-hostel at Chandrapur district.

A bench of Justices Zaka Haq and Vinay Joshi took up the matter after being moved by three tribal women, claiming that their daughters, all minors, were sexually abused in their school. The women, claimed majority of tribal girls study in this school and that several girls have been allegedly abused by the school employees.

The women had directly mentioned their plea before the bench and looking at the gravity and nature of the alleged offence, the bench, in an unusual course, decided to take up the matter on urgent basis. The bench immediately directed the registrar to allow filing of the petition in the HC registry.

Accordingly, the bench appointed an all-women committee under the chairmanship of a district judge. The committee also comprises of a police officer, a Tahsildar and also a senior gynaecologist of the Chandrapur medical college. “The Collector and the Superintendent of Police, Chandrapur shall immediately take over the supervision of the school and the premises where the girl students of the school are provided boarding.

The authorities shall not permit any private party including the office bearers of the institutions to interfere with the administration of the institutions,” the bench said. “The authorities shall ensure that the minor girls (inmates of the hostel) are not put to any inconvenience and shall take care of the daily needs like meals and other things from the State Exchequer.

They shall ensure that no male member is permitted around the premises in question,” the bench added. The bench further said that only female officer/employee, who is granted permission in writing by the committee, should be allowed to enter the premises.

“The Dean of the government medical college shall ensure that victims of the episode are not put to any inconvenience and all the medical facilities required by the victims and available in the hospital shall be made available to them immediately,” the bench ordered, adding that the government will have to bear the expenses of any private medical practitioner including of a psychiatrist, if required.

To justify this ‘ex-parte’ (in absence of the respondents) order, the bench said, “We are conscious that interim order of such nature should not be normally passed ex-parte and without giving notice to the other side and the affected parties. But, looking to the nature of grievance and the number and status of the victims, we are passing this order with a view to protect the minor victims.”

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