Curtains for home for poor

The registration of Kameshwari Priya Poor Home has been cancelled.

By Salil Shankar
  • Published 10.02.18
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SHUTDOWN: The Kameshwari Priya Poor Home in Darbhanga. Telegraph picture

Darbhanga: The registration of Kameshwari Priya Poor Home has been cancelled.

The organisation was started in 1940 by Maharaja Sir Kameshwar Singh in memory of his second wife to provide vocational training to orphans, the poor and helpless, to make them self-reliant and link them with the mainstream.

The home was established in the Mirzapur locality of Darbhanga. Popularly known as Poor Home, it had been a feature of importance for local residents.

In 2012, a resident of Mirzapur Sakmapul, Jaishankar Jha, lodged a complaint with the human rights commission and the high court against the organisation for deviating from its original purpose of providing shelter to the marginalised sections of society and alleged that they had been deprived of their homes.

"The organisation was supposed to arrange for their nutrition and rehabilitation also, which was the dream of Maharaja Sir Kameshwar Singh. As it has failed its purpose, an FIR should be lodged against those involved in the corrupt practices that led to the society's downfall," said Jha, who heads the Poor Home Revival Committee.

After a long and protracted legal battle, the high court directed the commissioner of Darbhanga division to form a three-member committee to conduct an inquiry into the functioning of the society. In the meantime, the functioning of the society was to be under the charge of the commissioner, Darbhanga.

The committee, in its 105-page report, found the allegations to be true. During the review, as reported by the committee, it was found that there has neither been a record of amendment in the by-laws of the organisation nor a statement intimating the administration about any other modification since 1980. The committee's report further states that since the original objective of the society was changed, they were required to register the altered by-laws with the department concerned. "Also, the society had failed to fulfil its statutory obligations," the report said.

The registration of the society was thus cancelled on the order of Aditya Kumar Das, inspector-general, registration, prohibition, excise and registration department, government of Bihar.

However, Poor Home Society's secretary Raman Kumar Verma denied any deviation and said the organisation was still serving its purpose.

"The Supreme Court has ruled in several cases that an organisation can serve several objectives. The Poor Home is serving four among 12 objectives. The Poor Home had an objective to rehabilitate beggars and that it served it well till the sixties, but after the anti-begging laws were introduced, the beggars stopped coming," Verma said.

"The society had established a school for the visually challenged, and hearing and speech impaired and leased it to the department of social welfare, government of Bihar, which is still catering to a sizeable number of needy people. Since 1977, the society has been running a 50-bed eye hospital that serves the poor. The hospital gives either free or subsidised medical services depending on the need of the patient," he added.

Those getting benefits of the organisation are upset. "The government should not shut down the facilities as people like me have no other option," said Uma Shankar Paswan, a beneficiary of the only standing pillar of the now crumbling society, the blind hospital.