Court issues notice to Amod Kanth in 1984 medal case

The Delhi High Court Friday issued notice to former police officer Amod Kanth and one of his colleagues on an appeal against the dismissal of a plea for stripping him of the police medal awarded for maintaining law and order during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots here.

 

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna issued notice to Kanth and the then station house officer S.S. Manan of Paharganj police station seeking their reply by Dec 13.

 

Petitioners Amrik Singh Lovely and Trilok Singh moved the appeal after a single judge bench had rejected their plea April 7. They alleged that former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Kanth and Manan were wrongly awarded the president’s police medals for gallantry.

 

The duo had implicated the Sikh community’s members during the riots which followed the assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards Oct 31, 1984, the petitioners alleged.

 

The petition, seeking a direction to the union home ministry to withdraw the police medal for gallantry conferred on Kanth and Manan by a presidential notification on June 7, 1985, was dismissed by Justice S. Muralidhar.

 

Though the judge noted that the 1984 riots in Delhi have ‘left deep scars on the collective memory of the nation, and especially of the Sikh community’ and that the ‘role of the State machinery has come under critical scrutiny’, he said there was little scope for judicial review in the case.

‘It is arguable that in the context of a tragedy of such proportions, the state ought to display sensitivity to the feelings of the victim community and be circumspect in hastening to award gallantry medals to the officials of the law enforcement machinery soon after the events. Yet, the scope of judicial review in such matters is limited,’ he said while rejecting the petition.

Weak law, tracking system hampers missing kids’ recovery

There is a huge discrepancy in the number of missing children in the country as sourced from police records and that obtained through RTI applications, an NGO said Friday, adding that it was among the many challenges in their recovery.

“According to the Zonal Integrated Police Network, the number of missing children from 10 districts of Delhi (between Jan 1-April 20, 2011) was 468. However, numbers extracted through RTIs from just eight districts stands at 1,260,” a statement by child rights organisation CRY said.

At a conference here, Yogita Verma of CRY said: “If we want our children to be safe, the need of the hour is a common and up-to-date case recording and tracking system that helps in finding children even in other states without a lapse in time.”

While official figures show that 8,945 children are abducted annually in India, the civil society puts the number at much higher.

The conference, which also saw testimonies by people whose children are missing, highlighted the fact that in a number of cases, the police refuse to register a case.

Rukmini Devi, whose four-year-old son went missing from their village in Agra district in 2007, said: “My child went missing on Jan 27, 2007. He was playing outside and the next moment he was not there”.

“We went to lodge a complaint with the police, but they refused to register our complaint. Our village elders said that we will block the road if the FIR (first information report) is not registered and we did that – only after that did the police register an FIR and said that our child will be found in three days,” she added.

“It’s been more than four years now, and my child is still not back,” Devi said in a choked voice.Amod Kanth of the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) said that a major challenge is that child trafficking is not even considered a crime in India.

“In about 70-80 percent cases, missing children are trafficked for labour. However, child labour is not even mentioned in the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act. This is a big loophole,” Kanth said.

CRY also said that in places like Uttar Pradesh, there is yet another challenge — not registering cases of missing girl children.”There are a number of instances of parents not registering cases of missing girls for fear of social stigma,” the statement said.

Court questions government on plea against Amod Kanth

The Delhi High Court Friday issued a notice to the central government on a plea to withdraw medals awarded to former Delhi Police officer Amod Kanth and one of his colleagues for their role in maintaining law and order during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in the city.

The division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjeev Khanna issued notice to the central government, the Delhi Police commissioner, Kanth and his colleague, and the then station house officer of Paharganj police station, and sought their responses by Sep 16. 

The notice came during the court hearing of a petition filed by Amrik Singh Lovely, who has challenged an earlier single-judge bench order rejecting the plea in April.

Nearly 12,000 Right to Education violations in Delhi

Since its implementation almost a year ago, nearly 12,000 cases of violation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act have been registered in the capital by a child rights body. There were cases of corporal punishment, denial under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota and mental harassment among others.

Amod Kanth, chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR), said the body had registered a total of 11,725 cases pertaining to violation of the RTE Act in Delhi until February this year.

‘As per the RTE Act, DCPCR monitors its implementation in Delhi. We have registered cases which involve violations of at least 20 kinds, like screening tests before admissions, corporal punishment, admission denial, mental harassment and others,’ Kanth told .

The RTE Act, implemented April 1, 2010, promises free and compulsory education to children between ages six and 14. Among other things it says no child shall be denied admission for lack of documents or if the admission cycle in the school is over. Disabled students should also be enrolled in mainstream schools.

Also, while the provisions of the RTE Act are applicable for kids up to Class 8, the Delhi government wants to extend its scope till Class 12.

Complaints are pouring in.

‘Initially, we had taken suo motu cognisance of media reports, but gradually parents started approaching us and now it seems like the floodgates have opened. Wherever required, we approach the school authority concerned and the compliance level is as high as 95 percent,’ Kanth said.

While the nature of violation is varied, most of the complaints coming to the DCPCR are denial of benefit of EWS quota. Schools are supposed to reserve 25 percent of its seats for economically weak sections of society.

‘Complaints to do with the EWS quota are the highest and pertain to private schools. For example, last month the father of an eight-year-old approached us after his child was denied the benefit of freeship under the EWS category. They were not well-to-do and the man had to sell off everything because of a crisis,’ a DCPCR official said.

The case was resolved after the commission intervened and issued a notice to the school.

‘Then again, there were complaints that after obtaining registration form free of cost, parents were not invited to witness the draw of lots under the EWS category. Taking cognisance of the matter, notices were issued against such schools,’ the official added.

Recognising education as a fundamental right of a child, the commission intervened when a public school in east Delhi threatened to expel a child over non-payment of his school fee.

‘Both the parents of Mayank Singh are in prison and there is no other earning member in the family. So issuing a notice over non-payment of fee was not just. We issued a notice to the school after which he was allowed to continue studying in the school free of cost,’ the official said.

The issue of corporal punishment was addressed in yet another case when a student of a reputed public school in Karol Bagh was beaten up by his mathematics teacher for not taking private tuition with him. After the commission’s intervention, the teacher, whose services were on a contract basis, was terminated.

There was also a case of molestation of a girl child in a government senior secondary school in Srinivaspuri in south Delhi. The commission issued a notice to the school, after which the education department conducted an inquiry. The charges were proved and both the erring teacher and the principal were suspended.

‘With the commission’s intervention, 3,216 children have been enrolled in schools in Delhi,’ Kanth said.

The main reason for these violations, Kanth said, is lack of awareness among teachers, school authorities and parents alike. To do its bit, the commission has been conducting awareness programmes for teachers and others on the RTE Act.

‘Teachers and schools have to realise that nearly half a million children in Delhi alone are out of school and most of them are homeless, working children and it is their responsibility to bring those children to school. Across the country, the number is nearly 60 million,’ he said.

‘The role of voluntary organisations is important in this, but it is not mentioned in the RTE Act,’ Kanth added.

‘It’s a good sign however that people are slowly becoming more aware of their rights under the RTE Act. And we can say that because the frequency of complaints has increased manifold,’ he said.

Parents refuse to take back child, child panel to take action

As parents of abandoned Chiku refused to accept him, the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) Tuesday said they will take action against the parents if they don’t take the child back.

Chiku, now six months old, was abandoned by his parents, Rajiv Kumar and Sunita in June last year soon after he was born at St. Stephens hospital as he suffered a brain haemorrhage. The child is being brought up by the hospital staff since then.

‘We shall initiate action against the parents,’ DCPCR Chairman Amod Kanth said.

According to staff at the hospital, Chiku’s parents abandoned him saying they cannot look after him.

‘We cannot bear such a child. We want a normal child. If the child can be made normal by the hospital, we will take him home, otherwise we won’t,’ Rajiv Kumar had said.

‘We had issued notice to the parents to take the child back. The period of the notice will lapse Wednesday, after that action will be initiated,’ a DCPCR official told IANS.

‘Action will be taken under section 317 (exposure and abandonment of child under twelve years, by parent or person having care of it) of the Indian Penal Code if they refuse to accept the child,’ he said.

The section provides for imprisonment up to seven years or fine, or both.

Asked if the commission would think of giving the child for adoption, the DCPCR official said that it will be the last recourse.

‘Adoption will be the last recourse. If the parents don’t accept the child they will be jailed. After that we will see how to settle the child,’ he said.

According to the official, this was the second notice sent to the parents. The first was sent to all parties including the hospital.

‘We had first issued a notice to all responsible parties including the hospital. The parents alleged that the haemorrhage was due to medical negligence so the child was taken to LNJP hospital for a check up which gave a report that it was not the hospital’s fault,’ the official said, ‘after that we sent a notice to the parents asking to take the child back’.

While Chiku’s parents refused to take the child back, his mother even questioned if the doctors will give a free treatment to the child if any thing goes wrong in future.

‘Will the hospital give free treatment if something goes wrong with him in future,’ Sunita told a TV channel.

The child’s father, Rajiv Kumar works with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi while the mother Sunita works in a central school.

‘Both the parents are well-off and educated, yet they are treating the child like a commodity which they won’t accept until repaired,’ the DCPCR official said.

‘More people interested in adopting girl child’

There is a steady flow of enquiries for adopting a girl child now than compared to earlier times, chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) Amod Kanth said at a workshop here Friday.

He, however, added that complicated adoption rules were proving to be a ‘road block’ for those interested in adopting a child.

‘There have been increasing number of queries on how to adopt a child, especially a girl child. People are more interested in adopting a girl today and for me that is a very satisfying trend,’ Kanth said at a workshop titled ‘Protect Girl Child and Promote Adoption’.

‘However, the laws of adoption are becoming like road blocks. The figures are appalling – just 3,000 adoptions in the country in a year! Laws should be framed in such a way that adoption becomes a smooth process,’ he added.

According to Kanth, there are 50-60 million homeless children in the country and adoption is the best tool to address that.