The Calcutta High Court on Monday (21st September) directed the Secretary, Women and Child Development and Social Welfare Department as well as the Judicial Secretary to submit a report disclosing the progress made in regard to the appointment of the Chairperson as well as other members of the selection committee of Child Welfare Committees and Juvenile Justice Boards in the various districts of this State.
The Division Bench of Justice Harish Tandon and Soumen Sen was hearing a matter, which was listed on Monday (21st September) having assigned by Hon'ble the Chief Justice to the Division Bench.
Significantly, by an order dated 16.03.2020 several authorities were impleaded as a party in this Public Interest Litigation and a direction was passed to disclose the steps taken for the constitution of Child Welfare Committees in every districts and sub-division as the case may be and also to disclose the condition of security, infrastructure, maintenance of diet chart required under the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2015 in the form of an affidavit within three weeks from date.
When the matter was taken up on Monday (21st September), almost after 6 months, the Judicial Secretary as well as Director, Child Rights and Trafficking were present before the Bench.
They showed their inability to apprise thE Bench over the progress made after the order dated 16.03.2020.
The Registry has forwarded the letter of the Registrar General-in-charge to the Judicial Secretary communicating the decision of Hon'ble the Chief Justice in appointing/nominating the retired Justice of the Court as the Chairperson of this selection committee of Child Welfare Committees and Juvenile Justice Boards.
In absence of any proper explanation, the Court directed that the matter be listed on 01.10.2020.
Notably, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court in the month of February, had directed the existing members of the Juvenile Justice Boards and Child Welfare Committee of the state, whose term expired in December last year, to continue to function and discharge their duties until fresh appointments.
This, despite Rule 5(2) and 15(4) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2019, that prohibits the appointment of members of JJBs and CWCs, respectively, for two continuous terms.
Also, in order to de-congest child care institutions in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court in the month of April had directed the Juvenile Justice Boards and Children Courts to consider releasing all children alleged to be in conflict with the law on temporary bail, unless there are clear and valid reasons for the application of the proviso to Section 12, JJ Act, 2015.
The order was passed by a bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Deepak Gupta in a suo moto case registered by it on the conditions of children protection homes across the country.
Case Title: Court in Its Own Motion (In Re: Child Welfare)
Case No.: W.P.A. 4947 of 2020 (Old No. W.P. 4947(W) of 2020)
Quorum: Justice Harish Tandon and Soumen Sen
Appearance: Advocate General Kishore Datta and Sayan Sinha (for the State)
Click Here To Download Order