Bombay HC issues directions for proper functioning of State Commission for Protection of Child Rights [Read Judgment]
The High Court of Bombay recently issued directions for proper functioning of the State Commission, to be constituted under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005.
The Court was hearing a PIL filed by the NGO, Forum for Fairness in Education, alleging that the provisions of the Act are not being implemented in its letter and spirit in the State of Maharashtra.
The NGO’s submissions had highlighted the failure of the State Government to constitute a State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, in accordance with Section 17 of the Act. It had further alleged non-compliance with Section 4 of the Right to Information Act, which deals with maintenance and publication of records.
The NGO had also demanded creation of helpline for children and appointment of Public Prosecutors having special knowledge in the subject.
Examining the contentions, the Court considered it “unfortunate” that the post of the Chairman and Members of the State Commission have remained vacant since December, 2011. The stand taken on behalf of the Commission was that the Principal Secretary of the Women and Child Development Department has been appointed as in-charge Chairman to carry out the day to day business of the Commission, with the help of the Secretary.
The Court however took due note of the fact that the Secretary was wrongfully exercising the functions of the Commission and was passing orders on its behalf.
The Bench comprising Justice A.S. Oka and Justice P.D. Naik hence issued various directions in this regard and directed that the PIL be listed from time to time for reporting compliance of the order. Following directions were issued:
- “We direct the State Government to immediately reconsider the issue of the remuneration payable to the Chairperson and Members of the State Commission under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005. The State Government shall consider of substantially enhancing the remuneration which is provided in Rule 4 of the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights Rules, 2010. Endeavour shall be made to fix the remuneration of the Chairperson and Members consistent with the remuneration payable under the Central Rules to the Chairperson and members of the National Commission. The State Government shall take appropriate decision on this aspect within a period of one month from the date on which an authenticated copy of this judgment and order or operative part thereof is produced in the office of the concerned department of the State Government;
- The State Government shall commence the process of constitution of the State Commission on expiry of a period of one month from the date on which an authenticated copy of this judgment and order is produced in the appropriate Department of State Government. The State Government shall publish a notice inviting applications in four daily newspapers namely Times of India, Loksatta, Lokmat and Sakal in all its local additions published in different parts of the State. The entire process of the constitution of the said State Commission shall be completed by the State Government within a period of six months from the date of publication of the notice.
- Though the time provided under Sub-section (1) of Section 4 of the Rights to Information Act of 2005 to make compliance has already expired, we direct both the State Commission as well as the National Commission under the said Act to substantially comply with the requirements of Subsection (1) of Section 4 of the said Act of 2005 within a period of two months from the date on which an authenticated copy of this judgment and order is produced by the petitioner in the offices of the Secretaries of the said Commissions. While making substantial compliance, the State Commission as well as the National Commission shall take into consideration what is set out in pages 4 and 5 of the written note submitted by the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner which is marked “x2” for identification;
- Within a period of two weeks from the date on which an authenticated copy of this judgment and order is produced in the office of the Secretary of the Women and Child Development of the State Government, necessary direction be issued to the Secretary of the State Commission inviting his attention to the role played by him under the said Act of 2005 as well as the Rules framed thereunder. Needless to add that till the State Commission is constituted in terms of the directions issued by this Court, the functions and duties of the State Commission shall be exercised by the officer holding the charge of the post of the Chairperson;
- The State Government shall take proper steps for appointment of the Special Public Prosecutors in terms of Section 26 of the said Act in the light of the observations made by this Court as expeditiously as possible and in any event within a period of three months on the date on which an authenticated copy of this judgment and order is produced by the petitioner with the Law and Judiciary Department of the State. We direct the State Government to ensure that proper facilities for giving regular training to the Special Public Prosecutors appointed under Section 26 of the said Act are made available. If necessary, the State Government may consider of approaching the Maharashtra Judicial Academy with a request to provide regular training to the Special Public Prosecutors;
- We direct the Central/State Governments to take steps for creation of awareness about the provisions of the said Act as well as all other enactments relating to rights of the children and about the remedies available under the said enactments and the machinery which is available under the said enactments. Adequate publicity shall be given not only on media both electrical and printed, but also by use of radio channels such as FM channels, by preparation of documentary films, etc. The State Government shall come out with a scheme as regards giving publicity in terms of the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child, 1989 as well as in terms of what we have discussed above. The State Government shall immediately take steps for giving necessary publicity and for creating grievance redressal mechanism. The details of the steps taken shall be placed on record within a period of two month from today;
- For creating helpline and grievance redressal mechanism, we grant two months time to the State Government from today to take appropriate steps;
- Whenever we have granted time of two months to make compliance, we direct the respondents to file compliance affidavits on or before 4th July, 2016;
- Though the petition is disposed of with the above directions, for reporting compliance with the directions, the petition shall be listed on 8th July, 2016 under the caption of “Directions”. Thereafter, the petition will be kept for directions from time to time till all the directions issued under the judgment and order are effectively complied with;
- All concerned to act upon an authenticated copy of the operative part of this judgment and order.”
Read the Judgment here.