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

Children can’t assert rights, so fight for them: NCPCR chairperson

Children cannot fight for their own rights, so having laws protecting such rights is not enough, people need to be aware of them and fight for them, Kushal Singh, chairperson, NCPCR, said Friday.

Speaking at the 24th edition of the Tara Ali Baig Memorial Lecture organised by SOS Children’s Village here, Singh, who heads the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) said: “Sensitisation of the law on child rights among common people is necessary, still many are not aware of the laws pertaining to child rights. Knowledge of child rights should be widespread as the kids are vulnerable and cannot fight alone for their rights.”

Singh said the NCPCR was working to strengthen laws on child rights.

“We also have asked the government to expand the course of the child labour act to cover children up to the age of 18. Right now, it covers only children up to 14 years old. Children from 14 to 18 years old are also very vulnerable,” she said.

The Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act (CLPRA) should be brought in line with the Right to Education (RTE) Act, she said.

Singh said the right to education too should extend to children up to the age of 18. At present, the act covers children up to 14 years old.

Recalling the contribution of Tara Ali Baig, who headed the SOS Children’s Villages for 22 years from 1967 to her death in 1989, S. Sandilya, president of SOS Children’s Village said: “NGOs like us who are working for child rights are always looking forward for funds from European countries. Nearly 65 percent of our funds are from abroad and 35 percent is from India. If we have more funds from our country it will be more helpful.”

SOS Children’s Village is an international organisation which provides family-based care to children without parents all over world.

In India, there are 33 children’s villages, which provide shelter and family care to nearly 6,500 children.

(Source: IANS)

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)

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.

Mathura’s child welfare homes in Scandalous state

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) says that Mathura child welfare system is facing problems like poor sanitation and poor living standards, dilapidated buildings, ineffective staff and irregular adoptions.

The situation came to light on Friday when a five-member NCPCR team inspected a child welfare home, an orphanage and a beggar’s home – all run by the Uttar Pradesh government in the town.

At the State Observation Home, which had 35 inmates, the team found only three small rooms with cots and threadbare mattresses, a water tap for drinking and washing, open drains and no bathrooms. The team even found that the young inmates were forced to cook, wash clothes and clean the place all by themselves.

“Under the Juvenile Justice Act, no child living in a state-run home has to do such menial chores. The condition here is utterly dehumanising,” said NCPCR member Yogesh Dube.

NCPCR has recommended that a case be registered against the home’s caretaker O.P. Yadav for alleged neglect and ill-treatment of the children. The home was in the news in February when eight inmates, who were allegedly beaten up by the staff, escaped.

“There is an urgent need to understand the psychology of the children behind the incident, instead of calling them unruly and undisciplined,” Dube said.

The team then visited Rajkiya Shishu Griha, a home for children under 10, and found glaring discrepancies in the adoption process.

Members of Mathura district’s child welfare committee were also found involved in a feud, Dube said.

After the inspection, the team also asked the chief medical officer to probe the reason behind amputating the hand of a mentally-challenged girl who lived in the children’s home. Then, at the home for child beggars, the team found that had housed a single inmate since 2010.

The rooms of the dilapidated building were being used as stores and the home had staffers who had no work, Dube said.

He urged the superintendent of police to form a task force to eradicate begging and bring child beggars to the beggars’ home for rehabilitation

Corporal punishment must be abolished: Child rights panel

India’s child rights panel on Monday stressed the need to eliminate all forms of corporal punishment practiced in the name of disciplining a child.

“We need to understand that children, like adults, too have a mind of their own and they do not enjoy having an unequal relationship. Therefore, any kind of domination of children by adults is unacceptable,” said National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) chairperson Shantha Sinha.

She also emphasized the need for different stakeholders to engage positively with children.

Sinha was speaking at the discussion forum on the report of Working Group of NCPCR on Guidelines for Eliminating Corporal Punishment in schools under section 17 of the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

The discussion also stressed the need for institutional reform and humanizing school campuses so that they become healing spaces for children

Children tortured in observation homes

Some children in need of care and protection who have been put in observation homes in Delhi, among other places, have been found to be “tortured”, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has said.

In a reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha Thursday, Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath said: “A few cases of torture have been reported by the children to the NCPCR teams during their visit in 2010 and 2011 to the observation homes in Delhi, Chennai, Mathura, Agra, Hoshiyarpur, Faridkot and Ludhiana.”

“Pursuant to the visits of the NCPCR teams, the gaps in the functioning of such homes, including complaints of torture of children, have been reported to the state governments concerned for remedial action,” she added.

The children, the minister further said, were not treated in the manner that they should as per the childcare standards stipulated under the Juvenile Justice Act.

NCPCR to recommend programmes for HIV/AIDS affected children

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) is preparing a comprehensive document recommending programmes to provide assistance to HIV/AIDS affected children.

The document includes suggestions like juvenile centres and providing legal and social support for children suffering from HIV/AIDS, NCPCR officials said.

‘We are formulating a comprehensive policy document. The recommendations will include all issues related to children suffering from HIV/AIDS,’ an NCPCR member told .

‘The documents deals with all issues relating to health, education, social stigma, legal assistance, and property and inheritance related issues,’ she said.

‘Among the recommendations is a suggestion for juvenile centres for orphans. Support that needs to be extended to families who have lost their breadwinners is also included.’Set up in March 2007, the commission’s mandate is to ensure that all laws, policies, programmes and administrative mechanisms are in consonance with the child rights perspective as enshrined in the constitution as well as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

According to NCPCR, a child is defined as a person in the 0 to 18 years age group.According to sources, the recommendations are likely to be handed over to government in time for World AIDS Day on Dec 1.

More than 21,000 children contract HIV every year through parent-to-child transmission in India, where 3.8 percent or 70,000 children below the age of 15 live with the infection.

Chaha, a critical programme supporting nearly 60,000 HIV/AIDS effected children run by international NGO HIV/AIDS Alliance, is due to end in March next year.

‘Resource is one of the major problems for India as we mostly rely on international aid. Moreover, the performance of government institutions varies from state to state,’ Sonal I. Mehta, who heads the Chaha programme in India, told.

‘Macro solutions can not solve micro problems. If there are care and support programmes, children can be helped, but the need for the government is to take resource allocation in its own hands,’ she said