HC seeks report on Mankhurd shelter reform

A month-and-a-half after former magistrate Swati Chouhan submitted a report on the condition of Navjeevan Mahila Vastigruh, a shelter home in Mankhurd, Bombay High Court (HC) asked the state government Thursday if it had implemented any of her recommendations.

Chouhan submitted the report on December 12 recommending that the state constitute a non-official body of social workers in Mankhurd to advise police on rescue operations. She said police should not conduct "impromptu" mass rescues but go ahead with proper planning.

Chouhan also said magistrates must check no victim woman is detained in a protective home for more than three weeks unless there is a detention order against her.

A division bench of justices Mohit Shah and Anoop Mohta asked the state to submit by February 13 a progress report on implementation of the recommendations. Mumbai Police Crime Branch told HC there were 34 inmates in the shelter home, while 23 girls had been repatriated.

It said if given a copy of statement of the girl who claimed rape at the Mankhurd facility, it could probe the allegation further.

An affidavit filed by police earlier had said statements of witnesses did not indicate rape.

The HC directions have come in response to a suo moto petition initiated after taking cognizance of a newspaper interview highlighting poor living conditions at the shelter.

In the interview, a woman from Kolkata claimed armed men would enter the shelter and rape and assault inmates.

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