Provide lodging to inmates of closed charity homes: Himachal court

Shimla, Feb 25: The Himachal Pradesh High Court has directed the state government to provide board and lodging to the inmates of those charity homes for underprivileged children that have been closed by the government.

Hearing a petition by Shimla-based welfare trust Umang Foundation, Justice Rajiv Sharma directed the secretary of social justice and empowerment department to provide lodging to the affected children in the nearby government-run “bal ashrams” by Feb 28. The copy of order was made available to the media Tuesday.

The petition highlighted the hardships caused to the inmates of the 23 institutions, which were ordered to be closed down by government’s orders dated Jan 22 as these were not registered under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.

“There was no illegality in the government’s order as these institutions are required to be registered under the Juvenile Justice Act. But since the inmates of these institutions are either orphans or belonging to lowest strata of society, they are required to be provided board and lodging,” said the court.

Umang Foundation chairman Ajai Srivastava told IANS that the charity homes were shut down Feb 15.

Srivastava said some charity homes had applied for registration under the act, but the directorate of women and child development rejected their applications without assigning any reason and did not even bother to intimate them.

According to the government list, a total of 42 homes for children in need of care and protection exist in the state. Of these, only 19 have been granted registration.

Of the registered homes, the government owns eight while NGOS that receive grant-in-aid from the state, run 11.