The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), a statutory child rights body, has moved the Supreme Court seeking court-monitored SIT probe into allegations that children were sold by the shelter homes of the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa, in Jharkhand.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant issued notice on Monday to Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Punjab, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Maharashtra governments and tagged the matter with pending matter connected with protection of child rights in school.

Citing protection of children, NCPCR sought direction to appoint top court monitored probe, which could conduct time-bound investigation and examine all such organisation in Jharkhand.

“During course of inquiry by petitioner (NCPCR), shocking revelations were made by the victims which included the fact that the children were being sold in the children’s homes. These facts were emphatically brought to the notice of the state government (Jharkhand) but continuous attempts were made to sabotage and derail the inquiry,” the plea said.

For the first time, the statutory body, alleging discrepancies in children’s homes’ in various states, moved the top court under Article 32, seeking enforcement of fundamental rights of prohibition of trafficking under Article 23 of the Constitution.

The plea, filed through advocate Swarupama Chaturvedi, cited cases of child rights violation in Jharkhand and indicted the authorities for developing a cold approach in the case of children.

The child rights body took cognizance of media reports stating that a member of Missionaries of Charity was arrested in Ranchi, Jharkhand, for her involvement in child trafficking in 2018. The plea cited gross irregularities observed by a member of NCPCR, who visited a centre of Missionaries of Charity at Ranchi, and this information was shared with chief secretary and Director General of Police of Jharkhand.

The plea said discrepancies have been observed in the state government authorities’ response, and the information received by NCPCR from Missionaries of charity on September 8, 2018, shared details of 78 child care institutions instead of 80.