Bihar social welfare department to set up inquiry committee amid allegations of sexual exploitation


Amid allegations of sexual exploitation of inmates at a shelter home for women in Bihar, the state’s social welfare department is considering setting up an inquiry committee, said an official familiar with the matter. On Thursday, Minu Kumar, a lawyer, released an audio clip of a purported telephonic conversation with a former inmate at the government-run shelter home. In the clip, the inmate is heard echoing another inmate about the exploitation. Kumar said the inmates she spoke to left the shelter home over a year back.

On Wednesday, the Patna high court took suo moto congnisance of a media report about the alleged sexual exploitation and the involvement of the shelter home in charge superintendent.

A video clip went viral on January 31 in which an inmate from Uttar Pradesh is purportedly heard making the allegations against the superintendent.

The high court took a note of the clip and directed the government to file a reply along with the compliance report by February 7 when the case would be taken up for hearing again. The Juvenile Justice Monitoring Committee (JJMC) submitted an inquiry report and the court directed the government to install more CCTV cameras in and around the shelter home. The court asked the government to set up another shelter home as the existing one is overcrowded and appoint a qualified officer as superintendent and depute more trained persons for better care. It noted that the home had 260 inmates against the capacity of 160.

The JJMC, in its report, highlighted the failure of authorities in providing basic amenities to the inmates and forcing them to remain there. It added no case was registered despite the allegations. “Though the director of the social welfare department has conducted an inquiry on the basis of the victim’s disclosure and dismissed the charges as baseless and false citing that the faulty and defunct CCTV footage did not corroborate them,” the report said. Social welfare department principal secretary Sandip Poundrik said the government’s report contradicted the allegations. “The department will file an affidavit in the court and wait for the fresh direction in the matter. Necessary instructions are being issued to comply with the latest orders of the court.”

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