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HC raps authorities for partial compliance report on orphanages, seeks detailed one

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Srinagar: Expressing its distaste at the partial compliance report on the orphanages in the union territory, the J&K High Court has directed the government to file a detailed account on the basic facilities in these institutions.

The court examined the report by Sheikh Feroz, the Deputy Advocate General of J&K which simply read that there are 98 orphan homes within the Union Territory. The report further stated “the total number of inmates enrolled therein is 3,211, however, the actual number of inmates is 1,865.”

A division bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Javed Iqbal Wani after perusing the report observed that apart from giving the statistics, the report is completely silent with regard to the basic facilities required in the orphanage.

“The respondents ought to have submitted a holistic report containing complete details of the hygienic conditions, washrooms, quality of food, medical facilities and vocational activities, if any, provided in those orphanages,” said the bench.

The bench remarked that it expects a better and a complete report in the matter. The respondents shall give complete details as sought by the court including the facilities being provided to the inmates, directed the court. It set a timeline of one month for compliance.

The court had in August 2021 t asked the government to furnish the information after senior advocate Bashir Ahmad Bashir as ‘amicus curiae’ submitted that the orphanages were reportedly closed during the Covid period.

“It is not clear how many inmates are currently there in these orphanages,” Bashir had said.

He pleaded that a direction was needed to get the information with regard to the current situation in these orphanages.

In 2015, the High Court took suo-moto cognizance of media reports on the alleged poor facilities at government-run orphanages including  Markazi Falah-e-Itfal and Markazi Falah-e-Mastoorat at Nishat. The reports were treated as PIL and the court had initiated proceedings against the government.

The PIL had taken cognizance of the “ugly picture” of the state-run children home, Markazi Falah-e-Itfal at Nishat on city outskirts for lacking basic healthcare facilities.

The petition took note of the information that children were being deprived of basic rights and that the officials were ostensibly forcing them to do menial jobs like washing clothes and sweeping the floors.

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