Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Saturday set up a
five-member coordination committee to monitor functioning of
the orphanages in the state following reports of death of
children at one of the homes.
A similar committee was set up at the instance of the
court in 1993 as well, but it ceased to function after few
The court was prompted to set up a new committee amid
reports of death of five children at a privately-run orphanage
in Kavdas, Thane, due to malnutrition.
Two girls at the orphanage were found to have been
sexually abused too. They have been now shifted to government-
run KEM hospital here.
The five-member committee will be headed by Professor
Asha Bajpai of Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Besides,
there would be sub-committees in each of seven administrative
divisions of the state.
After newspapers reported the death of children at
Kavadas, the court turned the reports into a PIL. Bajpai was
appointed as amicus curie, to assist the court.
Bajpai today said that there was a shortage of care-
homes for mentally challenged children in the state. Besides,
the existing orphanages also lack basic facilities, she said.
The division bench comprising Chief Justice Mohit Shah
and Justice D Y Chandrachud was shocked to hear that some sick
children were found to be lying on floor during Bajpai`s visit
at the state-run care home in suburban Mankhurd.
Presently, Maharashtra has 29 orphanages for mentally
challenged children -- most of which are run by NGOs. These
orphanages receive a grant of Rs 1,140 per child.
The Court observed that this amount is not sufficient if
an orphanage wanted to provide the standard of living as
required by rules under the Juvenile Justice Act.
The chief justice was surprised to read that under the
rules, every child must get five sets of shirts a year. "Even
I did not have that when I was in college," he said.
"These norms are so ideal even child living with a family
won`t get these (facilities)," he added.
The court directed the state to consider revising the
grant upwards and take necessary steps to provide counselling
facilities at the orphanages.
The next hearing on the matter will take place on October