Probe panel formed to look into activities of children’s homes

Kathmandu, December 31

The government has formed a five-member investigation commission led by former high court chief judge Hari Babu Bhattarai to probe the activities of Bal Mandir (Nepal Children’s Organisation) and children’s homes.

A notice published by the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens in the Nepal Gazette yesterday said the panel was formed in accordance with Section 3 (2) of the Commissions of Inquiry Act-1969.

“If the Government of Nepal is of the opinion that it is necessary to appoint a commission for the purpose of making an inquiry into any matter of public importance, it may appoint such a commission,” reads the act.

Members of the commission include two child rights experts and two joint secretaries from the Ministry of Home Affairs and MoWCSC. The notice stated that the commission was given three months time to complete the investigation and submit report, along with recommendations to reform Bal Mandir and action against its officials, if any, found to have involved in embezzlement of the state fund and other unauthorised activities.

The MoWCSC has determined the scope of the commission to ensure that it doesn’t deviate from its track. “The commission shall study the organisational propriety of Bal Mandir and children’s home, their policy provisions, structural arrangements and need for necessary reforms,” read the notice.

It also requires the commission to investigate into various decisions taken by the Kathmandu-based central office of Bal Mandir and its district offices in the past, to ascertain whether they were consistent with the prevailing laws and policy provisions or not.

“If the officials of Bal Mandir and district-based children’s homes are found to have made any decision contrary to the laws in force, the commission shall recommend the MoWCSC to initiate legal or departmental action against them,” read the notice.

In addition, the commission has been told to conduct inquiry into the use and management of land, buildings and other physical assets of Bal Mandir and children’s homes. The commission will also investigate into the activities carried out by Bal Mandir and children’s homes in the past to evaluate how effective they were for the protection and management of needy children entitled to the government facilities.

Office of the commission is situated in the MoWCSC, which will be provided with necessary budget through the Ministry of Finance. Director of Bal Mandir Balkrishna Dangol was arrested on August 14 for his alleged involvement in child trafficking. He had assisted a British woman Dina Smith in ‘buying’ a Nepali baby girl at Rs 450,000 and for obtaining fake documents to claim the baby as her own. Kathmandu District Court had remanded him to judicial custody. This was revealed after Smith was held by immigration office at Tribhuvan International Airport while trying to leave Nepal with the infant in the first week of August.

Naxal-based Bal Mandir was established in 1964 for the protection of orphans, helpless, abandoned and unclaimed children.