MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Tuesday directed Additional District Magistrate Court (I) Judge Deepthi Arivunithi to inspect an unregistered orphanage home run by a German pastor couple at Tiruchy, where 89 children were alleged to have been trafficked and kept in illegal confinement.
The division bench comprising justices V Ramasubramanian and N Kirubakaran also directed the Tiruchy district social welfare officer and Child Welfare Committee to accompany the judge to examine the status of the children and their identity. They have also been asked to examine documents and infrastructure facilities in the home during the inspection over the next two days and submit a report on December 1. The court registrar would facilitate the inspection process.
District Social Welfare officer Usha, who appeared before the bench as per the court’s direction, told the judges that the orphanage called Mose Ministries Complex situated at Subramanipuram in Tiruchy, has been functioninag for the last 15 years and is not registered with the Department of Social Welfare as mandated under section (34) (3) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act (Amendment) 2006.
During an inspection conducted on the direction of the Tiruchy collector, officials found that of the 89 children, only 21 were found to be enrolled in St Joseph Girl’s Higher Secondary School and the remaining were not continuing their education. Though the department issued three notices, pastor Gideon Jacob and his wife Ute Jacob neither submitted sufficient documents to register the home under the act nor produced children aged under 18 before the Child Welfare Committee, Usha said adding that 35 girls, who attained majority, were also not produced before the department.
Advocate D Geeta, who represented petitioner A Narayanan, director of Change India, an NGO working for the rights of children, and filed a writ petition seeking CBI investigation into the modus operandi of the pastors, told the bench that the report of the inspection conducted both by the NGO and the CWC reveals that the pastors indoctrinated the students in Christian theology and 10 children were taken to Germany on a visit for soliciting funds from the faithful in churches there.
On this, Justice Kirubakaran told the respondents, “Why are you begging money from aboard to work for the welfare of the children? If you want to serve children in need, one needs to source donation within the country.” Geeta further said the children were mentally conditioned into believing that they were all rescued by the pastor from their biological parents over fears of infanticide. As the Tamil Nadu government had introduced the cradle baby scheme in 1992, there is no possibility that the said home rescued the children from alleged infanticide.
The advocate also submitted a report on the details of the parents of some children. After examining all the details, Justice Ramasubramanian directed inspection of the home and submission of a report.