Saturday, March 30, 2013

RTE complaints go unaddressed


RTE complaints go unaddressed




NEW DELHI: Only 19% of complaints of violations of RTE Act that have come to monitoring body National Commission for Protection of Child Rights in the year 2012-2013 have been closed. Since the first year of RTE (2010-2011) when the commission closed over 57% cases, the percentage of cases it has managed to solve in a year has dipped considerably despite decline in their numbers, data from replies to an RTI query filed by activist Rashmi Gupta has shown.

With states being nowhere near meeting the deadline for implementation of the Act set at March 31, activists are demanding a monitoring body that can take action; not just recommend it.

The percentage of complaints closed has dropped from 57.6% (2010-2011) to 21.54% (2011-2012) and 19.21% (2012-2013). Shantha Sinha, chairman, NCPCR, argues that "is not something to be alarmed about". "There is a procedure for closing," she explains. "We are very careful to not just close without the complainant is fully satisfied." The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights is not faring much better having solved 116 of 557 cases (20.82%) registered with it.

Interestingly, the number of complaints registered with NCPCR has declined drastically in some states over the three years. In Andhra Pradesh, it fell from 780 in 2011-2012 to 39 in the last year; in Maharashtra, the number of cases was 132 in 2011-2012 and 14 last year and the number of cases dropped from 771 (2010-2011) to just two in Rajasthan (2012-2013). The total number of cases NCPCR dealt with last year — 687 —is less than half of what it was the previous year (1,768).

This, however, is not indicative of improved conditions and increased compliance on the part of institutions.

For one, launch of state commissions has eased the strain on the national body. "Several state commissions have been set up in the last year and complaints are going directly to them," Sinha said. But activists argue that the decrease in complaints registered despite greater awareness has more to do with people losing faith in the body's ability to effectively deal with complaints. The number of complaints from Delhi, which has had a state commission, has also fallen from 517 (2011-2012) to 320 (2012-2013).

"We have been demanding from the start that NCPCR be made a statutory committee with the authority to taking direct action," RTE Forum convenor, Ambarish Rai, said. Though Sinha maintains that the recommendations are complied with, Rai argues that until the national and state commissions are allowed to take action, they will remain toothless as monitoring agencies. "If nothing has been done on recommendations, the commissions can take judicial action, taking the party to court," he said, adding, "But there is no evidence of their having lodged any case."

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