Thursday, February 29, 2024

Apex Court flays ‘callous attitude’ of states, UTs towards child protection

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New Delhi: Irked over the “lackadaisical” and “utterly callous attitude” adopted by states and union territories in setting up commissions for protection of child rights, the Supreme Court on Monday asked their chief secretaries to file an affidavit disclosing full details on the issue.

A bench headed by Justice S S Nijjar also issued mandatory directions to these states and UTs to ensure that exploitation of children comes to an end at the earliest and asked them to file affidavits within eight weeks giving informations on nine key issues.

“We have been pained to notice the utterly callous attitude adopted by the states as well as union territories. We, therefore, have no option at this stage but to issue some further mandatory directions to ensure that the exploitation of the children in all spheres of life is brought to an end with utmost expedition,” the bench, also comprising Justice F M I Kalifulla, said.

“Keeping in view the aforesaid attitude of the states and the union territories, we direct that the Chief Secretaries of all the states to which notices have been issued in this matter shall file an affidavit within a period of eight weeks from the date of this order disclosing full details with regard to implementation of the obligations specified under the three Acts,” it said.

The apex court also said that in spite of its earlier orders directing these states and UTs to implement protective provisions contained in the Protection of Rights of Children from Sexual Offences Act, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act and the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, many of them have not complied with it.

“Sadly, we have to notice that in spite of the concern shown not only by this court but also by the counsel appearing for the parties, little or no progress has been made in this regard.

“Although the affidavits have been filed indicating that the State Commissions have been established, yet we find that such establishment is only on paper,” the bench said.

Detailing the facts on the issue, the apex court said that pursuant to its earlier directions, Tripura, Dadar and Nagar Haveli, Lakshwadeep, Chandigarh, Andaman and Nicobar, Daman and Diu and Pondicherry have still not constituted the state commissions under section 17 of the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005.

Regarding the states, it said Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Nagaland, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have established state commissions for the protection of children but have not completely constituted it by either not appointing a chairperson or members.

The bench, however, clarified if there is non-compliance of its directions, “an officer of the rank of Principal Secretary of state government shall remain present in person in the court to clarify the issues with respect to the failure to implement the directions of the Court.”

“If for any reason, the affidavit, as directed for, is not filed by the Chief Secretary before the next date of hearing, then also, the officer of the rank referred above shall remain present in person to explain the reasons for the state’s failure to submit the affidavit,” it said. (PTI)

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