Trafficked children given back to the same orphanages by Kerala Govt? SC seeks reply

published on October 14, 2014

Supreme Court seeks Kerala’s reply over ‘trafficked’ kids

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday sought Kerala government’s response to allegations that authorities handed back children to an Islamic orphanage which was booked for trafficking the very same children. 

A bench of Chief Justice HL Dattu and justices Madan B Lokur and AK Sikri asked advocate Bina Madhavan to file the state’s response to amicus curiae Aparna Bhat’s charge in two weeks. 

Bhat alleged that the state admitted in its recent affidavit that around 150 children rescued from the alleged illegal child shelter — Mukkam Muslim Orphanage in Mallapuram — were handed back to the orphanage even after the police booked it for child trafficking. 

In her application, Bhat had said, “The transporting of children from Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal can only be termed as ‘human trafficking’ under Section 370 and 370A of the Indian Penal Code.”

During the course of investigation, three accused (involved in the trafficking of 600 children) confessed that they were working for Mukkam Muslim Orphanage and the others said they belonged to the Vettathur Anwarul Orphanage in Malappuram. 

Claiming that “several such orphanages have mushroomed in north Kerala”, Bhat said a well-organized racket regularly trafficked destitute children from impoverished regions of north and north-east India to Kerala orphanages to increase and maintain foreign donation flow into their locality. 

She said though the state government had consistently claimed that orphanages and child care institutions were registered, “Kerala is the only state where their registration is not compulsory”. 

However, Madhavan countered the claim and said the orphanages were either registered under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act or the Orphanages and Other Charitable Homes (Supervision and Control) Act, 1960. 

The transporting of children from Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal can only be termed as “human trafficking” under Section 370 and 370A of the Indian Penal Code.

The court said when both the legislations were operational, it could not ask the state to follow one and discard the other. It asked Bhat to file a fresh application suggesting ways and means to counter the menace of child trafficking and better regulation of orphanages.

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