CHENNAI: The chairman of Child Welfare Committee (CWC) at Chengalpattu, who had forcibly removed five children from ‘Assisi Illam’ (a children’s home) at St.Thomas Mount, has been directed by Madras High Court to send them back to the ‘illam’.
Justice M Duraiswamy, who gave the directive, also ordered notice, returnable by four weeks to the Kancheepuram District Collector, CWC chairman and three others on a petition filed by Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph.
According to petitioner, the illam established in 2005 at Nethaji Nagar was one among the 17 children’s homes run by the petitioner society. Of them, 12 are for semi-orphans and remaining are for total destitutes, as they had been abandoned or handed over to the illam while they were just born under various social circumstances by various persons.
All these years these five children had been given not only care and affection, but also good education. Since the authorities had raised demands on staff and other requirements, besides to upgrade infrastructure, the society decided to close the said home and requested the CWC to permit it to transfer these five children to its Assisi Illam. The District Child Protection officer also recommended the same.
While so, the CWC issued a show cause notice asking the petitioner society as to why it had not informed the government about accepting the five children in 2005 and 2006 after enactment of the Juvenile Justice Act.
The society explained the background circumstances under which the children came under the care and protection of Assisi Illam. However, CWC lodged a complaint with police that Assisi Illam was an un-registered home and children were under illegal custody, the petitioner added.
Petitioner’s senior counsel Xavier Arulraj submitted that the CWC had forcibly removed the children from the Assisi Illam with the assistance of police on June 1 and transferred them to some other private home. The petitioner reliably learnt that the children were deeply upset and were weeping due to their sudden displacement and loss of affection, he added.
The judge said when the children of the age group of nine to 12 were brought up by Assisi Illam right from their childhood, it would not be proper on the part of CWC to take the custody of the children all of a sudden. It was also brought to the notice of the court that the children were studying in one of the best schools in the locality.