An FIR has been registered in Karnataka against the Chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), Priyank Kanoongo for inspecting an orphanage in Bengaluru named "Darul Uloom Sayyadiya Yatim Khana". Priyank Kanoongo had visited the orphanage on November 19 along with the District Child Protection Officer (East) and other state officials. Upon inspection of the premises, the Commission had noted many violations of law and had demanded registration of an FIR against those operating the orphanage.

As per Priyank Kanoongo, the FIR has instead been registered against him, including for the offence of trespass, for entering the premises of the orphanage during the inspection. While responding to the media about the FIR against him, Priyank Kanoongo said that he was performing his duties under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and the Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005 while visiting the orphanage and that during the visit, he was accompanied by the officers of the Karnataka state government.

Moreover, NCPCR has now written to the Chief Secretaries of all States and Union Territories seeking a report on all Yatim Khanas (orphanages) functioning within their jurisdiction.

"If you keep children captive inside your premises illegally and if you don't follow the law of the land, I will inspect. Karnataka government should realise that this Country is governed by the Constitution, not Sharia. If they make such attempts, I will keep visiting the State and the State should not try to suppress voices in support of child rights through such actions", Priyank Kanoongo said while speaking to the media.

Pursuant to his visit, the NCPCR Chairperson had written separate letters to the Chief Secretary of Karnataka as well as the Deputy Commissioner and District Magistrate of Bengaluru on November 20, setting out the illegalities in the functioning of the orphanage.

The Commission has noted in the letter that the orphanage is not registered under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 as mandated by Section 41 of the Act. The Chairperson noted that the orphanage does not fulfil the infrastructural requirements for accommodating around 200 children. "There were 5 rooms of approximately 100 square feet and each room had 4 bunk beds for 8 children and 16 children sleep on four bunk beds placed in the corridor. Around 150 children sleep in two big halls used for prayer", the letter says.

More importantly, the letter states that none of the children in the orphanage are sent to school. "None of these children are sent to school violating their fundamental right to education", the letter says. The letter records that there is no recreational facility such as play material or TV in the orphanage and that the conditions in which children are kept in the orphanage amount to a violation of Section 75 of the JJ Act, 2005.

Taking cognizance of the matter under Section 13 (I) (j) of the CPCR Act, 2005, the Commission has requested the Chief Secretary and the District Magistrate to ensure that an FIR is registered under Sections 42, 34 and 75 of JJ Act, 2015 against the Head and Members of the Committee under which the orphanage is functioning. The Commission has also sought an action taken report within seven days of the letter.

The Commission has also sent a letter to the concerned District Collector to ensure production of all children in the orphanage before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) as per Section 31 of the JJ Act, 2015 and to share the details of the children and staff in the orphanage.

After his inspection of the orphanage, Priyank Kanoongo had tweeted from his personal handle that the children in the orphanage are living their lives in medieval Talibani conditions and that the Constitution does not prescribe the same for the children. This tweet prompted the filing of a police complaint against the Chairperson of the Commission.

However, Priyank Kanoongo, continuing to aggressively pursue the issue, has written to the Chief Secretaries of all States and Union Territories on November 23, asking them to look into the functioning of "Yateemkhanas" operating within their jurisdiction. "lt is imperative to investigate their status to ascertain compliance with the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, ensuring their proper registration and adherence to all prescribed norms under this legislation", the letter says.

"ln consultation with the Minority Welfare Department, the Education Department, and Department of Women and Child Development, your prompt action is solicited to verify the registration status of such Yateemkhanas under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. Failure to comply will necessitate the immediate filing of FIRs against them, in accordance with Section 42 of the JJ Act,20l5. ...Furthermore, you are requested to furnish a comprehensive report to the Commission within 15 days of receiving this correspondence. The report should detail the number of operational Yateemkhanas in your state, their registration status, the count of unregistered Vateemkhanas, and the actions taken under Section 42 of the Juvenile Justice Act", the letter of the NCPCR Chairperson reads.