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December 13, 2019

SHC bemoans state’s handling of orphans and destitute children


December 13, 2019

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has directed district and sessions judges to nominate magistrates to visit orphanage institutes in their districts and ensure that all orphan institutes are registered with the social welfare department.

Hearing a petition with regard to implementation of child protection laws in the province, a single bench of the SHC comprising Justice Salahuddin Panhwar observed that though the Child Protection Authority Act 2011 was in field, its effective implementation was lacking and not a single child protection centre was established except three Darul Atfals in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur while one is being constructed in District Korangi since 2010.

The high court observed that such situation was very alarming and it was lamentable how the state was prima facie handling the orphans and destitute children who had no fault on their part.

The SHC directed that judicial magistrates will be competent to pass any appropriate order for the implementation of the Child Protection Authority Act as well as the Children Act 1955 and the Orphanage Act 1976, which also provided that no name of any child involved in any case as accused or victim shall be flashed in newspapers as well as on the electronic media and its violation thereof constitutes an offence penalty of up to three years.

The high court directed that the social welfare department as well as the child protection authority shall assist the judicial magistrates with regard to the registration of orphanage institutes and ensure free education for such children in private and public institutes.

The SHC observed that judicial magistrates shall visit the orphanage houses on a fortnightly basis. The single bench observed that judicial magistrates shall ensure reunion of parents and shall examine the reasons of nestling of any child in any orphanage institute.

The high court also directed the health secretary to issue directions to all hospitals that if any orphan was found on their premises or left by the parents, the child protection officer and the social welfare department shall be intimated forthwith and with their assistance the custody of such child shall be regulated through the magistrate.

The Child Protection Authority director general admitted that yet there was no mechanism with regard to surveillance of orphans who are nestled in the private shelter homes and the registration process of private NGOs is yet to be completed and comprehensive data with regard to admission of orphans with private NGOs is to be compiled.

Regarding free education endowment funds and providing free education to 10 per cent of students by the private education institutes, the court observed that there must be some mechanism for the private schools in a way similar to that provided under the free education endowment fund law so that mandatory rules were not exploited for want of mechanism which otherwise shall be failure of the objective of the induction of concerned rules. The high court directed the school and college secretaries to ensure that all rules are properly framed and implemented.

The private schools director general admitted that private schools were not providing 10 per cent free education as provided under the rule 13 of the Sindh Private Educational Institutions (Regulation and Control) Ordinance 2001 and rules 2005.

The high court directed the secretary endowment fund schools to submit the complete break-up of last 10 years with regard to allocation of funds, release of funds and use thereof. The court directed secretary finance to submit report for last five years with regard to allocation of funds and release of funds for school, colleges and universities as well as for schools under endowment funds and free education fund department.

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