Supreme Court asks all High Courts to give details on setting up of children’s courts

 The Supreme Court today directed all High Courts in the country to give details on whether special courts to ensure speedy trial of offences against children have been set up in each district.

The court considered Section 25 and 26 of the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005 which provide that there has to be a children’s court for speedy trial of offences against them and the cases of child rights’ abuses, besides appointment of public prosecutors to deal with them.

“Keeping in view the provisions, it is directed that the Registrar Generals of the High Courts would submit a report as regards Sections 25 and 26 of the Act. After receipt of the report, the issue shall be addressed.

“The Registry of this court is directed to forward the earlier order and the present order to the Registrars General of the High Courts with the stipulation that the reports shall be submitted within two weeks from the date of receipt of the orders,” a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.

The court also made it clear that the pendency of the case before it shall not be construed “as any kind of impediment for establishment of courts and appointment of Special Public Prosecutors if steps in that direction have already been taken.”

Earlier, the court had sought response from all states on the running of orphanages, the mode of adoption and the treatment meted out to children there.

It had also expressed concern over alleged trafficking of orphans in West Bengal in the name of adoption and had said “nothing can be more disastrous than selling of children in the name of adoption”.

A bench was hearing an appeal of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) against a Calcutta High Court order staying NCPCR’s proceedings in a case related to alleged gross violation of rights of orphaned children in West Bengal.

The NCPCR had alleged that the West Bengal government had illegally formed ad hoc committees for adoption and giving away orphans for adoption in gross violation of law and rules.

The top court, while issuing notice on the plea of the child rights body, had expanded the scope of the plea and ordered that all states, besides West Bengal, be made parties through their chief secretaries and sought their response within two weeks.

The apex court had asked the states to respond with details about orphanages and the facilities being given to orphan children at those centres and also the procedures followed in giving children on adoption.

“It is necessary to have a comprehensive view of the entire country pertaining to running of orphanages, the mode and method of adoption, the care given and the treatment meted out to the children. For the said purpose, it is necessary that all the states shall be added as respondents in the matter,” the bench had ordered.

It had considered the submission of the NCPCR that orphans were being sold in West Bengal and had stayed the proceedings and the order of the Calcutta High Court.

The High Court had on August 29 last year stayed the proceedings initiated by the NCPCR after taking note of the plea filed by Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), CID, State of West Bengal.

It was alleged by the ADGP before the High Court that NCPCR had no jurisdiction as the West Bengal State Commission for Protection of Child Rights was seized of the matter.

In the High Court, the national child rights body and the West Bengal government were at loggerheads over the alleged trafficking of 17 children from an orphanage in Jalpaiguri.

The NCPCR had blamed the local administration for the thriving of the trafficking racket but the state government questioned the jurisdiction of the apex child rights body.

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