Mysterious Deaths and Rapes in Nari Niketans, Child Care Institutes
It is a matter of dismay and degrade at the pathetic state of shelter homes like Nari Niketans and Children Homes where many inmates, including a deaf and dumb girl, was subjected to rape and forcible abortion, the Uttarakhand High Court in a recent case titled Shivangi Gangwar v State & others Writ Petition (PIL) No. 07 of 2016 dated May 23, 2018 while expressing its shock has been compelled to passed a string of directions ranging from regular inspection of such custodial institutions, segregation of normal and mentally ill inmates to strict action against those employing children for begging or drug peddling or anyone meting out corporal punishment to children in child care institutions and loans to the inmates of After Care Organization to set up entrepreneurial activities. Where will the poor and hapless children and women go if they are subjected to the worst atrocities even in Nari Niketans and child care institutes? What is even more worst is that even those who are deaf and dumb are not spared! This under no circumstances can be allowed to go unnoticed, unchecked and unpunished!
To be sure, a Bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Sharad Kumar Sharma also directed that the trial in the case of sexual harassment of the deaf and dumb inmate at Nari Niketan in Dehradun by a sweeper which has been moving at snail pace since 2016, with mere five prosecution witnesses examined, so far be completed within six months while also ordering suspension and disciplinary proceedings against
Ramesh Chandra Kashyap who is music teacher at the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped at Dehradun’s Rajpur Road for sexually harassing a child. No doubt, the offences against minors and women must be decided at the earliest. This alone explains why even the Uttarakhand High Court directed that the trial in the case to be registered against Kashyap be completed within three months.
Be it noted, the Bench was deciding a PIL filed by Shivangi Gangwar who highlighted the molestation, rape, harassment and victimization of Nari Niketan inmates in Uttarakhand, more particularly in Nari Niketan at Kedrapuram in Dehradun. The petitioner informed the court that the state government is running three Nari Niketans and two shelter homes at Haldwani and Almora. It was also informed that the conditions of these Nari Niketans are deplorable. It was also brought out that the mentally ill/retarded inmates are also kept with their children in Nari Niketans, which is not permissible under the law.
Not stopping here, two inmates have died in mysterious circumstances and what is even worse and appalling is that no inquiry was held to fix the responsibility. Fourteen children were suffering from malnutrition and taken to a hospital. The news reports led to the District Magistrate visiting the shelter home at Haldwani where he noticed deplorable conditions, lack of recreational facilities and that the inmates were not allowed to move out except for visiting court or hospital for treatment and no step is taken to restore the inmates to their guardians.
The Bench minced just no words in saying it very clearly and categorically in para 127 of the landmark judgment that, “The rape and abortion of the helpless deaf and dumb girl, the mysterious death of the two inmates speaks volumes of mismanagement of the institution. These institutions must be respected and maintained like temples. The music teacher violating the body of a child in the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped cannot be permitted to be repeated.
Uttarakhand High Court has passed a string of directions toprotect witnesses.
The court observed that witnesses are not adequately compensated and their dignity should be maintained.