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MP HC stays CWC's order on shifting children from St. Francis Orphanage

 
Bhopal, Jan 8 (IANS) The Madhya Pradesh High Court has stayed an order issued by the state government's Child Welfare Committee (CWC) regarding shifting of 44 children from the St. Francis Orphanage located in Sagar district to some other place.

The principal bench of the high court headed by Justice Nandita Dube, while hearing the petition, questioned the government's unusual move, saying there is nothing on record as to under what circumstance and what provision are the children being shifted from the orphanage to some other place.

"I deem it proper to direct the authorities not to shift the children right now. There is nothing on record as to under what circumstance and what provision the children are being shifted from the orphanage," Dube said adding, "The order of shifting the children dated December 29 has been stayed."

The court was hearing a petition filed by St. Francis Orphanage challenging an order issued by the CWC regarding the shifting of children from the orphanage on December 29.

The petitioner stated that on January 6, the CWC along with the police forcefully tried to shift children to other centres.

The court has also directed the district CWC to submit a report within two weeks explaining why the children are being shifted in this cold weather and this difficult time when there is a rising threat of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the court also asked the state government and the CWC to submit a report on the condition of the orphanage where the children are staying presently, and what is the condition or availability of space where they were intending to shift all these 44 children.

Father Sinto Varghese, Director of St. Francis Orphanage, told IANS on Saturday said that the CWC through the police was trying to remove 44 children forcibly from the orphanage.

He further said that on January 6, government officials accompanied by the police came and began forcing children to accompany them.

An official in CWC, Sagar, claimed the order regarding the shifting of children was issued as the registration of the orphanage expired in 2020.

Replying to this, Varghese said, "We had applied for renewal of licence and had submitted all the documents required to seek extension before the tenure of registration was over. However, the government did not reply on that and instead tried to shift children from here."

He added that false information was being spread against the Catholic institute despite its selfless service to the poor and marginalised people of the society for the past 145 years.

He claimed the orphanage was located on a portion of a prime 277-acre of land granted to the church during the British era.

--IANS
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