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