Kerala High Court today wanted a "serious investigation" in the matter relating to trafficking of 588 children from Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal to orphanages in the state and suo motu impleaded the Railway ministry and social welfare ministries of the three states. "There should be a serious investigation in the matter to know the real cause or reason why such a huge number of children from outside the state came to Kozhikode and Palakkad," a division bench, comprising Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice PR Ramachanra Menon said.
The Court suo motu impleaded the states of Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand and issued notices to the Ministry of social welfare in each of the three states. The Railway ministry was also impleaded in the case. The bench directed the state to place on record from time to time details of the investigation by the crime branch in the case and posted the case to June 19. The directions were issued on a PIL filed by Rajendra Prasada, President of Thampu, an NGO, seeking a direction to send back the children immediately to their homes. The children belonging to extremely impoverised communities were brought to the orphanages.
The bench directed the government to place on record all details of children, including their age and state to which they belonged. The reports of the child welfare committee on the incident should also be placed before the court, it said. The report should also contain details on how many children were sent back to their respective states, who were in charge of the children, it said.
On June 3, the state child rights panel had directed the government to send back the children to their home states-- Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal--within three weeks, after it found they were brought without due documents and not following procedures under Juvenile Justice Act and Orphanage and Other Charitable Homes Act.
A police investigation is already under way by a special team and an FIR has been lodged following the arrest of eight persons, who accompanied 586 children at Palakkad, where they were brought in two batches by train. The children, meant to be taken to some orphanages, had been kept in state-run juvenile homes of the Child Welfare Society in Palakkad, Malappuram and Thrissur.
The issue has also caused ruptures within ruling UDF with key partner IUML resenting the steps taken by the Home Department.