Trace children missing from shelter home, HC tells cops

Court expresses concern over report on mentally challenged children's home.

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday expressed concern over a report filed by a court-appointed committee, which said two children escaped from a home for mentally deficient children in July and November. The court directed the Trombay Police to file a report stating the steps taken to trace the two children.

A division bench of Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice A A Sayed has also asked the police to enhance the security at the home in Mankhurd.

According to amicus curiae Asha Bajpai, appointed to assist the court in the matter, the boy who escaped in July was 14 years and 10 months old. However, his mental age was calculated as six years, and he is said to fall in the category of moderate mental retardation. The other child escaped on November 11, Bajpai told the court.

Referring to these incidents, Justice Chandrachud said in his order, "The officer-in-charge of the Trombay police station shall take necessary steps to trace the children and shall file a report before the court by the date of the next hearing."

The court has also asked the public works department to take steps to complete the fencing work at the house within two weeks.

During the hearing, Bajpai, a professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), told the court that a notification was passed earlier this year, directing the transfer of these homes from the department of women and child welfare to the social justice department. The notification was passed on May 30 by the then chief secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad.

The court was irked to note that the resolution was not yet implemented. The division bench has directed that a ministerial decision in this respect should be taken before January 11. It said till the process of transition was underway, both departments would be responsible for the functioning of these homes.

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