Stuck in legal woes, Tamil Nadu child rights panel inactive for a year
Child rights activists also stressed the importance of an independent body, especially in light of recent incidents such as the attack by four juveniles on a student and his sister in Nanguneri.
CHENNAI: The State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR), a vital institution responsible for overseeing the enforcement of various child-related legislation, has remained non-operational for over a year. It is entangled in legal disputes after the members appointed by the AIADMK government moved the court following the DMK government’s call for reconstitution of the commission.
“The commission has to primarily oversee the implementation of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and Right to Education (RTE) Act and also other children-related acts like the Juvenile Justice Act and The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act. It can also take suo motu cognisance of incidents where child rights are violated and give recommendations to the government. It can also study the issues affecting children and make recommendations,” said A Devaneyan, director of Thozhamai, an organisation working for child rights.
Child rights activists also stressed the importance of an independent body, especially in light of recent incidents such as the attack by four juveniles on a student and his sister in Nanguneri and the tragic death of a 17-year-old boy in a children’s home in Chengalpattu.
While the government has formed committees to offer suggestions following these incidents, the insights from a dedicated child rights committee would have been more beneficial as it will also be the monitoring authority to prevent these incidents in the future, they said.
Many urged the government to ensure the commission functions effectively when it is reconstituted. This includes the appointment of a distinguished person with experience in working for the cause of child rights without any political affiliation as the chairperson to ensure the independence of the body.
Devaneyan said presently, the commission lacks adequate staff to fulfil its mandate. It does not have a conference hall in its office to call for convergence of various departments when there is an issue, plus the members are also not paid enough. To function independently, SCPCR requires increased funding.
"It is unfortunate that the commission has not been functioning to help the government with policies and remedies during such cases. With more than three months remaining in the present committee's tenure, the government should expedite the resolution of this case," said Andrew Sesuraj, former convenor of the Tamil Nadu Child Rights Watch.
A top official from the Social Welfare Department said the government will implement the court order or will ask for leave if there is no judgment before the expiry of the commission’s tenure. “We will also look into the suggestions being made for making the commission more active,”.