Cuttack, Dec. 19: A PIL seeking judicial intervention against alleged subjection of juveniles to routine sexual abuse and violence at the state-run observation home in Berhampur has been filed in Orissa High Court.
The petition has sought an inquiry into the functioning of the observation home where adults are allowed to stay and majority of the juveniles charged with murder, attempt to murder and theft are held in the same facilities with abandoned/orphaned children. It poses danger to juveniles of criminal contamination.
Orissa government has failed to ensure separation of juveniles as required under Juveniles Justice (care and protection of children) Act, 2000.
The government has provided adequate facilities for bed, food, drinking water, toilets, bathrooms, according to the Orissa Juvenile Justice Rules 2002, and education facilities as per Right to Education Act, 2010, the PIL contends on the basis of a report by the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR).
Kunja Bihari Patra (40), a Puri based researcher in Global Human Rights Communications (GHRC) has filed the petition.
“The two judge bench of Chief Justice V. Gopal Gowda and Justice B.N. Mohapatra has directed the state counsel to take instructions from the government before the case is taken up for hearing,” petitioner counsel Ashis Kumar Mishra said today.
According to the petition the 10 juveniles had fled from the observation home cum children’s home for boys after beating up the head guard with a cricket bat. Police had on September 22, caught seven of them at the local bus station. Two others managed to escape while another was caught later. An FIR had been registered at the Baidyanathpur police station against them.
While seeking direction for a probe into the alleged torture and sexual harassment of the inmates, the petition further sought review of the FIR against the juveniles taking into consideration the fact that six of the juveniles had no case pending against them and they were staying in the observation home as abandoned / orphaned children.
The PIL assumes significance as the Asian Centre for Human Rights had filed a complaint with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on October 1, to consider its findings at the Berhampur Observation Home as an emblematic case of failure of the administration of juvenile justice in Orissa.
ACHR had conducted an inquiry from September 29 to October 1, after the escape of 10 juveniles from the Berhampur Observation Home on the intervening night of September 21 and 22, 2010.
The conditions in the observation home are deplorable. There are only one toilet, two bathrooms and 44 poorly maintained beds for 88 inmates including three adults living currently in the Home. Sometimes, the number of inmates in the observation home increase up to 150 and they have to live with these extremely low hygiene standards. The doctor seldom visits, the petition alleged.