Bombay HC-slams cops for insensitive report- Shelter Home Horror #Rape #Vaw


Mankhurd shelter home horror

Appoints a three-member committee for a fresh probe into allegations of negligence, sexual abuse and torture

Yogesh Sadhwani

Posted On Tuesday, November 06, 2012

A week after Mumbai Mirror reported on allegations of rape, negligence and torture at the state-run shelter for women, Navjeevan Mahila Vasti Gruh, Bombay High Court disapproved the probe report submitted by deputy commissioner of police, Crime Branch, on grounds that it lacked sensitivity.

DCP Ambadas Pote, in his report, denied allegations made by an inmate of the Mankhurd home, in the interview carried by Mumbai Mirror on October 29.

Expressing surprise at the report, HC has now appointed a three-member panel to probe the allegations afresh.

The panel comprises Dr Asha Bajpai from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, renowned counsellor Dr Harish Shetty, and Rashmi Karandikar, superintendent of police.

In his report, Pote stated that his Special Investigating Team recorded statements of around 100 persons, including staff, inmates, social workers who routinely visit the home, and police personnel, and that none of them mentioned sexual abuse. He also stated that the inmates were given adequate food and were well taken care of.

Pote’s report was filed in HC, which is hearing a suo moto PIL after receiving an email from activist Purnima Upadhyay, who feared for the safety of women after reading the interview of an inmate who had escaped on October 27.

While government pleader Dhairyasheel Nalavade claimed that no such incidents occurred at the home, advocate Shubhada Khot, the amicus curie, pointed out several flaws in investigation.

The division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Nitin Jamdar said that the investigation was carried out in an insensitive manner. “Where are the women now? Are they still under the same caretakers?” asked HC. When informed that the women were indeed under the same caretakers, HC said, “Tell us, what action are you taking against the caretakers referred to by the woman?”

The bench stated that the police officer merely looked at the specific allegation of “armed men barging into the home, randomly picking up girls and raping them at knife-point”. The court pointed out that the video-taped interview revealed that rowdy elements would visit the premises and on their request woman caretakers would ask inmates to go out with them. Those who dared refuse, were tortured.

“What does this mean, what more you want?” the judges asked Nalavade, expressing surprise that no FIR was registered. “One statement of one witness is sufficient to lodge an FIR, this statement contains more than sufficient material.”

Further pointing out that “apparently many wrong things are going on there” HC stated that the “State authority should have appointed a sensitive person to investigate such a case”.

Meanwhile, in his affidavit, Ujjwal Uke, principal secretary, Women and Child Development Department, admitted that with a capacity for 100, the home which had 298 inmates, was overcrowded. He admitted that around 100 women continue to languish there despite release orders, due to lack of escorts to send them home.

The next hearing is on November 26.

 

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