Thursday, March 6, 2014

Chairperson in place, but child rights panel remains toothless

Chairperson in place, but child rights panel remains toothless

Vinod Kumar, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, February 28, 2014
First Published: 11:01 IST(28/2/2014) | Last Updated: 11:03 IST(28/2/2014)
Buckling under pressure from the Punjab and Haryana high court, the UT administration had constituted the Commission for Protection of Child Rights by appointing a chairperson on February 5, but the body remains toothless as no members have been appointed so far.

Chairperson Devi Sirohi, senior history professor at Panjab University, is the lone representative, even as the commission has to mandatorily have six members and one secretary. Sirohi has started visiting different institutes to get feedback, but she has not even been given any official vehicle or assistance staff. According to sources, the file pertaining to appointment of members is pending with the higher authorities, while the file for deployment of staff is with the finance department.
Rules say two out of the six mandatory members of the commission should be women, and they must have experience in the field of education, child health, juvenile justice, child psychology and laws related to children.
When contacted, Sirohi confirmed that members and secretary had not been appointed, and added that the commission would have legal sanctity only when it has the required members. “The commission can make an impact, too, only if all requirements are complied with,” she said.
So far, the commission has received one complaint. The commission has a mandate to ensure that all laws, policies and programmes are in consonance with the child rights perspective of the Constitution.
Director, social welfare, Rajesh Jogpal said, “We are in the process of appointing members. Some staff members of the department of social welfare have been attached with the commission on temporary basis.”
Earlier, the very constitution of the commission was marred by delays. The Supreme Court had issued directions in February 2013 to constitute such commissions in all states and union territories within three months. As such, the Chandigarh administration was to constitute the commission by May 18 last year.
The administration acted only after getting directions from the high court following a public interest litigation filed by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
The role of the commission is to examine and review safeguards provided by law for protection of child rights and recommend measures for effective implementation; inquire into violation of child rights and recommend initiation of proceedings; undertake and promote research in the field of child rights; spread literacy on the subject; and inquire into complaints and take suo moto notice of matters related to deprivation and violation of child rights, and act over non-implementation of laws providing for protection and development of children.

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