Apna Ghar deputy director suspended for flouting rules

TNN | Nov 13, 2013, 01.47 AM IST

PANAJI: The deputy director of Apna Ghar at Merces has been placed under suspension for flouting rules of the juvenile justice board by illegally releasing five children.

In the departmental inquiry, Shanti Makwana Harding, in-charge of Apna Ghar, was held guilty of illegally releasing five children who were lodged in the protective home after they were caught begging. There were also several complaints against Harding. An inquiry conducted into the release of five children by Sunil Masurkar, director of women and child, had held her guilty of misusing her position. The vigilance department on Tuesday suspended her.

The inquiry report was sent to the chief minister's office. She was indicted for letting out the five children in violation of the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act, 2000 and rules, a source said.

"Apna Ghar is a very sensitive institution and the functioning of Shanti Makwana Harding is not in the interest of the institution and appropriate action be taken against her," said the report. It was highlighted that she did not discharge her duties diligently as per provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act. Also, she was not complying with the orders of the child welfare committee (CWC) and juvenile justice boards.

An inquiry was conducted after Scan-India, a non-government organization (NGO) working for welfare of children, had filed a police complaint regarding illegal release of five children. It alleged that children were let out without direction from the child welfare committee (CWC), which had admitted the children in Apna Ghar.

In her reply to the director, Shanti Makwana Harding submitted that she had released the children as it was in their best interests. A source said the department had not accepted her explanation on grounds that "she had no authority to free the children admitted in Apna Ghar without the orders of the competent authorities."

In this regard, she was issued a show cause notice on October 30, 2013, but, she neither appeared before the CWC nor filed any reply. The CWC also filed a complaint against the deputy director alleging that she behaved in a dictatorial manner in refusing admission to a child in need of care and protection.