Trafficking of orphans: SC seeks response from all states

 Stating that nothing can be more disastrous than selling of children in the name of adoption, the Supreme Court today sought response of all states on running of orphanages, the mode of adoption and the treatment meted out to children there.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra was hearing an appeal of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) against a Calcutta High Court order staying its 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 adhoc committees for adoption and given away orphans for adoption in gross violation of law and rules.

“A child cannot be bartered away at the whims and fancies of the person in charge of an orphanage,” the bench, also comprising justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.

The top court expanded the scope of the plea filed by the NCPCR 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 asked the states to respond with details about orphanages and facilities being given to orphan children at those centres and also the procedure followed in giving children on adoption.

“That being the position, when the children are sold, nothing can be more disastrous than this. This is a situation which cannot be allowed to prevail. A right of a child in a society is sacred, for the future of the country depends upon the character and the destiny of the child and the state has a great role in that regard. It is in the realm of protection.

“In view of the aforesaid, 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 ordered.

The top court also asked the states to respond as to whether human rights court in every district, as mandated under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, have been set up or not.

Meanwhile, the bench considered the submission of Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing NCPCR, that the children are being sold in West Bengal and stayed the proceedings and the order of the Calcutta High Court.

The High Court, on August 29, last year, had 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.

While staying the High Court order, the top court cited the famous quote — ‘the child is the father of man’ — and said, “As the issue pertains to trafficking of children, which has a vital national concern and recognises no boundary, we think it appropriate to entertain the special leave petition.”

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.

Source : PTI

3216 POCSO cases pending in city courts: Delhi govt to HC

The city government on Wednesday informed the Delhi High Court that there are 3,216 cases relating to sexual offences against children under POCSO Act pending before different sessions courts in the national capital.

The submission was made in an affidavit submitted by Additional Home Secretary before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice PS Teji which fixed the matter for further consideration on March 4, 2015.

“At present, one Special Public Prosecutor has been posted in each of the session courts functioning in NCT Delhi to conduct the prosecution of cases, on behalf of the state. In view of the number of cases listed in each court it is felt the public prosecutors appearing in the court can handle cases under POCSO and it is not much in number to create pressure or burden,” the affidavit said.

“There is a regular cadre of prosecuting officers under Directorate of Prosecution in NCT Delhi to conduct cases in courts of metropolitan magistrate/CMM/ACMMs and before the session courts. One prosecuting officer/Additional Public Prosecutor remains regularly posted in each of the session courts functioning in NCT of Delhi,” it said.

The Delhi government also informed the bench that there was no need to appoint more than one Additional Public Prosecutors for conducting the cases under POCSO Act.
The High Court had earlier asked the Administrative Reforms Department of the Delhi government to submit an affidavit on the issue of handling of POCSO cases by the special public prosecutors.

The High Court was hearing a plea, filed through advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, alleging that the government has not appointed Special Public Prosecutors (SPPs) to handle the cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

POCSO ActBansal had contended that as per the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights data, there were over 4000 cases pending under the POCSO Act in various district courts here and trial in these would be delayed if “independent or unattached” SPPs were not appointed to deal with them.

The plea had said that the powers of SPPs have been conferred upon Additional Public Prosecutors (APPs) to deal with the cases pending in courts set up under the POCSO Act.
He had contended the government’s decision to confer the powers of SPPs on already attached APPs was contrary to the High Court’s orders to appoint special prosecutors for such cases alone.

On April 16, the Centre had told the High Court that it has given a go-ahead to the city government to appoint SPPs in each special court set up to handle sexual offence cases involving minors.

The court had thereafter asked the city government to appoint SPPs within four weeks and disposed of the PIL. It, however, had granted the liberty to seek revival of the PIL if the Delhi government failed to implement the order.

NCPCR’s guidelines to Bengal for ‘right to play’

NCPCRTo ensure a child’s “right to play”, India’s apex child rights panel has issued a 10-point guideline to the West Bengal government for implementation while granting permission for construction of high-rise residential buildings.

“The government of West Bengal has acceded to the guidelines/recommendations issued by NCPCR for implementation to ensure the children’s right to play,” the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) said in a press statement.

The issue had come up before the commission while processing a complaint wherein a resident of a housing complex, Kolkata had been constantly harassing and threatening the children from playing in the common areas.

“The commission is now taking up with all the state Governments and union territories to ensure children’s right to play living in the high-rise residential building/housing complex,” the panel said in the statement.

 

Some of the key guidelines include:

 

– A provision for safe and uninhabited outdoor play ground for children, which should be safe from traffic, pollution, and unnecessary physical and social hazards.

 

– The location of the play areas should be near, in and around the central part of the housing complex so that the children feel secure and less isolated from their parents.

 

– There should be free ingress and egress of children without any discrimination and the play ground should be open on all reasonable times.

 

– Play areas should accommodate different types of play.

 

– To ensure provision for places where both adults and children can interact on a casual basis.

 

– To ensure that there should be provision/facility of barrier-free playing for children with special needs.

RTE: HC notice to DPS for not imparting quality education to poor students

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notice to the central government and chairman of Delhi Public School (DPS) Society on a plea alleging that one of its schools had deprived poor students of quality education by ignoring the right to education (RTE) law.


A division bench of Acting Chief Justice B D Ahmed and Justice Vibhu Bakhru also issued notice to the Delhi government and chief of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and sought their response by September 18.

The petition sought a direction to the society’s school in Noida to impart free and compulsory education to the poor students in accordance with RTE law.

The petition was filed by a group of parents of poor students of DPS sector 30 Noida.

The parents alleged that the school had segregated the poor students from the classes held for other children.

The plea alleged that the poor students were discriminated against from others on issue of text books, uniforms, library facilities and extra curricular activities.

“The school played a fraud on the petitioners to deprive their wards of quality education by totally ignoring the mandate of the RTE act that children from disadvantaged and weaker sections admitted for free education are to be provided same quality education by providing infrastructure and compliance with specific norms and standard in the school as for other students in the class,” the plea said.

Separate classes for the poor students were being held after 2 p.m., old torn books were given to them and one book was to be shared between three-four students, it alleged. The plea said that contrary to the mandate of the law the school was charging monthly fee.

The petitioner said that a complaint was made to Noida police on February 2 and a representation was also given to the child rights panel on February 5, but nothing much had changed.

(Source: IANS)

Child labour: High Court summons senior police officer

The Delhi High Court summoned a top police officer and the Labour Commissioner for the failure to implement its order asking them to take steps for eliminating the menace of child labour.

A bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice V K Jain expressed its displeasure over the non-filing of status report in the matter by the Delhi government and the police.

Joint Police Commissioner and the Labour Commissioner has been asked by the Delhi High court to appear along with their respective status reports on March 6, the next date of hearing.

According to the court, “Delhi police and state government was directed to file status report in the case, but no report has been filed so far. Concerned Joint Commissioner of Police as well as Secretary/Commissioner of Labour Department will remain present along with the status report on next date of hearing.”

The direction came on a PIL filed by NGO Save the Child Foundation alleging the government agencies do not have any plausible reason for not implementing the July 15, 2007 directions of the court by which 500 child labourers have to be rescued every month.

The plea has alleged that the authorities adopted a “lackadaisical approach” in implementing the court’s order for elimination of child labour.

Earlier, the high court had sought the response of the Centre, Delhi government and the police for their failure in implementing its order.

Senior advocate H S Phoolka had attempted to connect the PIL on child labour with that of a juvenile facing proceedings in the December 16 gang-rape case, claiming ” he was also a victim of such abuse.”

The NGO, in its plea, said that failure to comply with the court directions have resulted in child labourers growing up as “anti-social elements”.

The high court in its July 2007 judgement had accepted an action plan for elimination of child labour in the capital by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and other government departments and had issued directions in the case.

The PIL told if the Delhi government in compliance with the court’s order had rescued 500 child labourers every month, till now over 18,000 victims would have been saved.

It has told that till now only 3,500 children have been rescued in Delhi since July 15, 2007.

According to it, “For these 18,000 rescued child labourers, more than Rs 36 crore ought to have been recovered, as per the direction of the high court and also the Supreme Court, and such money would have been adequate to ensure the rehabilitation of rescued child labourers and their education. However, in reality, none of this has happened.”

Haryana rapes reflect skewed sex ratio: Child rights panel

The spate of rapes in Haryana is a reflection of the adverse sex ratio in the state as well as the way the female sex is treated in society, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) said Tuesday and demanded severe punishment for the rapists.

“Gender discrimination and caste discrimination is reflected in the adverse sex ratio in Haryana. It is reflected in the way girls are treated,” Shanta Sinha, NCPCR chairperson, told a TV channel.

“There has to be a concerted action by civil society and the government at the highest level to see that such violence on girls is not perpetrated,” she added.

Sinha spoke as Congress chief Sonia Gandhi visited the family of a teenaged Dalit girl in Jind, Haryana, who killed herself after a gangrape – the 12th such incident in the state in a month. Gandhi demanded the “severest punishment” for the rapists.

Sinha echoed the Congress chief in demanding “severe punishment” for the perpetrators. “The NCPCR is taking cognizance (of the spate of rapes) and we have sought a report,” she added.

The Jind victim belonged to a poor, Dalit family. The 16-year-old was allegedly raped by two youths from her neighbourhood Saturday, after which she doused herself with kerosene and set herself ablaze. She died at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS) at Rohtak.

Child rights panel summons UP officer over encephalitis deaths

Disturbed over the large number of deaths due to encephalitis in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur district, India’s apex child rights panel has summoned the top health official of the state to appear before it, a statement said Monday.

“The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has summoned the principal secretary (health), Uttar Pradesh government to appear before a bench constituted by NCPCR on Oct 3, 2012,” said the statement released here.

NCPCR member, Yogesh Dube had recently visited Gorakhpur and expressed his dissatisfaction over the government actions in dealing with as well as preventing cases of Japanese encephalitis and acute encephalitis syndrome.

“The state government has largely failed in dealing with as well as preventing cases. The government clearly lacks a long-term plan in dealing with the disease,” he said.

Dube stressed on the fatality rate and multiple disabilities caused by encephalitis and the need for an integrated management of physical and mental disabilities of infected children.

An awareness campaign was also launched by the NCPCR on the disease in Gorakhpur and Kushinagar districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Rohtak Sexual assault case: CBI filed chargesheet

The Apna Ghar of Rohtak which shelters destitute girls is doing rounds in media since it has come in news for sexual abuse. The sexual assault case come into news when NCPCR raided the house. On Tuesday CBI in its chargesheet averred that girls in Apna Ghar were raped, dragged into prostitution, treated like bonded labourers and underwent forced abortions.

 Jaswanti Devi, secretary of NGO Bharat Vikas Sangh which runs Apna Ghar, and six of her associates were booked as accused in the case. The 27-page chargesheet was filed before special CBI magistrate Nazar Singh.

 A team of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) raided the Rohtak shelter home in May. The Punjab and Haryana high court set up a probe panel after the raid. The panel recommended the court to hand over the probe to an independent agency like the CBI for a thorough and fair probe.

 Besides Jaswanti, the CBI named her daughter Sushma alias Simmi, son-in-law Jai Bhagwan, brother Jaswant Singh, driver Satish and his sister Sheela and Apna Ghar counsellor Veena Rani in the chargesheet.

 The plight of four victims has been documented by the CBI, who were raped, assaulted and forced to work as farm labourers.

 “Investigations have established sexual exploitation, rape, abortion without consent, outraging modesty, assault and other offences,” the chargesheet said.

 The CBI charged the seven accused for forcing inmates into prostitution, sexual abuse, bonded labour, physical assault and forced abortion.

 The youngest victim is a 10-year-old girl, among the first to complain of torture and sexual abuse at Apna Ghar of Rohtak. Her statement helped CBI investigators track down those who allegedly bought children from the shelter home. According to the chargesheet, the children were sold by Veena Rani.

 “We will file a supplementary chargesheet later,” said Labh Singh, CBI counsel.

 One of the rape victims assaulted several times by Jaswanti, Sheela and Simmi told CBI investigators that two inmates had died after they were beaten. Jaswanti and others also assaulted a pregnant woman who died later.

Forced implementation of RTE: NCPCR seeks report from Karnataka govt

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has asked the Karnataka government to submit a report following allegations that four students from economically weaker section (EWS) were humiliated in a prominent Bangalore school in a bid to implement RTE.

 Taking suo motu cognisance of a media report, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) directed Karnataka education secretary (Primary and Secondary Education) to get the matter investigated and take further necessary action. The commission has also sought an action taken report (ATR).

 Parents of the students of Class I admitted under 25 per cent quota under Right to Education Act in the Bangalore school have alleged that the children were humiliated and discriminated against.

 The mother of one of the children has alleged that the school did not take any action after she brought to its notice the incident of her daughter’s classmate cutting tufts of her hair.

 The NCPCR on Wednesday asked the secretary to provide to it details of alleged victimisation accorded to the students and to initiate necessary action against the concerned school authority and other functionaries, if found guilty.

 It also instructed the secretary to ensure that the children got immediate counselling at state cost.

J-K govt: Assures to revise Juvenile Justice Act

The Jammu and Kashmir Government has assured the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to table a revised Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act in the Assembly to look after children in need of care and protection.

The assurance was given by the Jammu and Kashmir Law Secretary to an NCPCR team that was visiting the state from June 24.

The team comprising NCPCR members Vinod Kumar Tikoo and Dr Yogesh Dube met Secretary Law and impressed upon the need for an effective juvenile law in place along with the relevant rules of the law that need to be notified at the earliest addressing the entitlements of children in need of care and protection and children in conflict with law.

 The Law Secretary was very responsive and informed that the revised Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act in consonance with the Central Act, defining a child to be one who has not completed 18 years, is likely to be tabled in the Assembly in the coming session during August-September”, a release from NCPCR said today.

 The team was also informed that the Juvenile Justice Act  Bill, relating to the setting up of SCPCR, is also being tabled in the same session as the present government had taken up the issue of protection of child rights as a priority.

“The civil society was very responsive and discussed various issues that need to be in place, including the issue of birth registration, the right to health care and educational rights which need to be stepped up”, Tikoo said.

The delegation also met Governor N N Vohra and informed about the NCPCR’s work in various other states, including the areas of civil unrest and also discussed the issue of setting up a state commission in Jammu and Kashmir.

The team visited the recently established juveniles in Observation Home at Harvan and the Bal Ashram at Nishad.

The release said the delegation also had a separate meeting with the Vice Chancellor of the University of Kashmir and the Dean and various heads of departments and discussed the possibilities of involving students in the social and audit mechanism.