NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court today asked the Centre to explain the inordinate delay in appointment of the three members in the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) which is currently functioning below its full administrative capacity.
Expressing serious displeasure over the delay in filling up the vacancies, a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar warned the counsel appearing for the Centre that it would adopt coercive process for personal appearance of a senior official from the ministry concerned.
It observed orally that there is statutory time limit of 90 days within which the vacancies of the NCPCR need to be filled up.
"It is completely unacceptable that statutory 90 days has not been complied. The vacancies have been continuing for more than two years in the commission," the bench remarked.
It asked the Centre's counsel Kushal Kumar, to place before it the timeline in one week over the appointments.
The bench noted that the Centre in July had told it that for three posts in the NCPCR they have shortlisted nine candidates, but till date they have not finalised it.
The bench listed the matter for November 24 by when the Centre has to place before it the actual status.
"Failing which we will be constrained to call the senior person from the department concerned," the bench said.
The Centre's counsel, however, sought more time to fill the posts.
The bench said there was a Supreme Court direction to ensure filling up of the vacancies in 90 days in the NCPCR.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL), brought by advocate Radhakanta Tripathy, aimed to ensure better administration at the panel for safeguarding interests of children.
As per the statutory mandate under The Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005, the panel should have six members and a chairperson. At present, the child rights panel has three members. Stuti Narain Kacker is the chairperson.
The plea has said that inaction of the government in not appointing members of the panel over the years is "arbitrary, unreasonable and in violation of Article 14 (Right to Equality), 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution of India".
Under the mandate, fresh appointments must be made within 90 days from the time of the occurrence of the vacancy, the PIL said.
The petition has said that non-appointment of commission members frustrates the mechanism for dispensing justice and increases the pendency of cases pertaining to child rights.
The NCPCR, established in 2007, is responsible for implementation of child rights such as right to food, protection of children from sexual offences and free and compulsory education among others.