The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up the Centre after the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights submitted a report on the status of children in shelter homes across the country, PTI reported. The court said the report’s findings were frightening.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development acknowledged the report’s findings, and said it has ordered states to complete their audits of shelter homes and submit reports by September 15.

The bench headed by Justice Madan Lokur said it was hesitant about intervening in the matter as it would be accused of “judicial activism”. “It seems that no one is interested in monitoring conditions in shelter homes,” ANI quoted Lokur as saying.

The court quoted the report to highlight that only 54 of the 2,874 children homes in the country have received positive feedback from the commission. It also pointed out that only 19 of the 185 shelter homes that were audited had records of the children living there.

When the Centre told the court that it was dependent on data provided by the states, the court said: “It is very easy to blame somebody else. It is difficult to take responsibility”. The government’s representative said it was treating the matter on a priority basis.

The court scheduled the next hearing for September 20.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights prepared the report
weeks after the alleged rape of at least 34 girls at a shelter home in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur came to light. The sexual exploitation of the girls was revealed after Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences submitted an audit report of 110 shelter homes in the state in April. Two women reportedly died at the shelter home.

On August 5, police rescued 24 girls from a shelter home in Uttar Pradesh’s Deoria district following allegations of sexual abuse and trafficking.

On August 14, the Supreme Court asked the Centre what action it had taken in 1,500 cases of child sexual abuse reported from shelter homes across the country.