Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked Maharashtra government to expedite the process of repatriation of Bangladeshi women who have been rescued by police and are currently lodged in a state-run shelter home in suburban Mankhurd.
The women from Bangladesh, whose case travel permit is already obtained by police, should be immediately repatriated, said Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Nitin Jamdar while hearing a PIL.
The court also asked the state government to send home all Indian girls who had been temporarily shifted to Shradanand Ashram in Matunga for recording their statements on harassment by the staff of Mankhurd home.
As their statements had been recorded, they should be sent home, the court ruled.
Psychiatrist Haresh Shetty said a lot of frustration was there among the inmates of Makhurd home due to lack of facilities there and also because the home did not send them back to their residence, despite orders passed by the court.
Armed with a High Court directive, police had filed an FIR on December 1 on the basis of allegations by inmates of the Mankhurd rehabilitation home for rescued women about "unhygienic, humiliating and abusive" conditions there.
The court also asked Superintendent of Police Rashmi Karandikar to personally relocate 20 inmates of `Navjeevan Sudhar Kendra` in Mankhurd to `Shradhanand Mahila Ashram` in Matunga.
The court had also directed that inmates be examined by a government doctor, to see if they had suffered any physical abuse.
The court had earlier directed Magistrate Swati Chavan to monitor the affairs at the Mankhurd home, and asked a team of magistrates to record the statements of the women.
The High Court has turned an e-mail sent by activist Purnima Upadhyay, based on a news report about conditions at Mankhurd home, into a PIL.
A court-appointed committee said in its report that 66 per cent of the inmates (36 out of 54) were found to be "severely depressed", and a similar number displayed suicidal intents. One woman had committed suicide in March.
According to the report, an inmate was found to be pregnant in October 2011, within 50 days of being admitted to the home. When she was brought in, the medical examination for pregnancy was negative. "Hence, sexual assault/ intercourse cannot be ruled out," the report said.
On November 6, the High Court had appointed a two-member panel of psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty and Superintendent of Police Rashmi Karandikar to conduct an inquiry.
The home receives, among others, women who are rescued from traffickers.
An order to repatriate 33 such girls last November resulted only in nine transport permissions. These, too, lapsed with no implementation, the panel said in its report.
The report said a few girls "saw unidentified men near the barracks", which called for serious investigation.
Registers were not maintained and "negligence and callousness continued through successive superintendents."
"Food is often insufficient, unpalatable and half-cooked," a girl told the panel.
"The inmates did not receive respect and compassion at the centre and felt their dignity and human rights were violated continuously," the committee said. "Deep suspicion, anger and resentment continues against the staff even now...Human rights violations were continuous, but the centre blames overcrowding for most ills."
The report said the inmates were threatened with extended stay if they complained, and the current superintendent "terrorised" the girls.