The Madras High Court on Friday called on the concerned State authorities to ensure that periodical inspections are conducted in Children's Homes so that the living conditions therein can be monitored.
Justice SM Subramaniam added that if there is any failure on this count, the Head of the Department concerned and the government must initiate appropriate action against the errant officials.
"Protection of Children is of paramount importance and the duty of the State enshrined under the Constitution of India. The interest of minor children at no circumstances be compromised by the State and the Authorities Competent. Thus, the jurisdictional respective District Child Protection Officers and other Authorities are directed to conduct periodical inspection of such Homes, so as to ensure the living conditions, facilities provided and the administration of such Homes by the persons concerned and submit report to the Higher Officials for the purpose of pursuing any actions if required under law", the Court said.
The competent authorities have a mandatory duty to conduct periodical inspections in Children's Homes and any lapses, negligence or dereliction of duty should be viewed seriously, the Court observed.
The Judge noted further that complaints concerning Children's Homes are frequently received by the High Court due to lack of periodic inspections. Such complaints can be avoided if there are routine or periodical inspections, he said.
"... the seriousness involved regarding the interest of the minor children is to be considered by the Government and the Head of the Department and all appropriate actions are to be initiated", the Court went on to remark.
The Court was dealing with a 2015 petition moved by a public charitable trust challenging an order to close down a Children's Home run by them. The authorites alleged that forty nine children were under the custody of the trust without proper permission.
The Court had earlier directed an inspection in the matter, following which it was found that there were no children presently under the custody of the petitoner.
As such, the Court disposed of the plea without deciding on the merits of the matter and confined to observing:
" ... the petitioner cannot run any such Children Home without obtaining proper permission from the Competent Authorities in the manner known to law ... the impugned order lost its relevance as no children are in the custody of the petitioner as of now as per the Status Report filed by the District Child Protection Officer, Thiruvallur and thus, no further consideration is required in the present writ petition."