Noting that there was an “imperative necessity to step up the security” of shelter homes in Uttar Pradesh, the Allahabad High Court has directed the State government to install CCTV cameras at all such institutions, both government-run and accredited private ones.
Hearing the Deoria shelter home case suo motu, the court also ordered the constitution of a three-four member committee of judicial officers in each district by the district judges to “periodically inspect all shelter homes” in the State. The committees would submit periodic reports to the court.
“Had there been a periodic and effective inspection of the premises, perhaps the sad incidents which came to occur in the shelter home would not have come to pass,” a Bench of Chief Justice Dilip B. Bhosale and Justice Yashwant Varma said in an order dated August 27 but uploaded on Thursday.
The committees would have to include one woman member. The court directed the Additional Advocate General of the State to apprise it of the government’s response on the direction to install CCTV cameras in all shelter homes.
The HC also expressed displeasure with the Additional Chief Secretary for submitting an affidavit that was “conspicuously silent and vague” on what further action the State proposed to take on the matters raised by the court in earlier orders.
One question was why the Deoria police continued to send girls to the controversial shelter home in Deoria even after the State had suspended its recognition and stopped funds. The government had submitted to the court that 121 girls were sent to the shelter home from 18 different police stations during the period from June 2017, when the institution run by Girija Devi was de-recognised.
“Upon a prima facie evaluation of the facts...it appears that there was a systemic failure to oversee the functioning of the shelter home and to audit its affairs. The sordid conditions which existed in the shelter home were permitted to be perpetuated despite it functioning under the direct gaze of the District Administration and the Child Welfare Committee,” the court said.
The affidavit of the Additional Chief Secretary also failed to disclose what future course of action the State proposed to take in the light of the report submitted by the two-member probe committee constituted by the State government, the court noted, directing the government to provide an explanation in the next hearing.
The matter is listed for September 5.