'Committees inadequate to monitor erring institutions'

Only 6 Child Welfare Committees in each district instead the mandated 11

Child rights groups allege that despite Supreme Court orders only 36 per cent of Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) are operational in Delhi districts.

There are 11 police districts and according to the court's directive Delhi is supposed to have 11 CWCs in each of these districts. However, only six CWCs are operational in Delhi, which lack manpower and infrastructure to take care of children in need of protection.

Moreover, only two Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs) have been constituted in the city so far.

The Supreme Court had directed states across India to ensure full compliance of various provisions under the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act and set up JJBs, CWCs and State Juvenile Police Units (SJPUs) within six weeks from the date of the order (January 22, 2010). The court also directed the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to oversee the compliance of the order.

“However, there was no positive result. After a year, in September 2011, the NCPCR came out with a report which states that only 524 CWCs are operational across the country. The biggest issue is lack of commitment on the part of government towards ensuring protection of children,” said Bhuvan Ribhu, a Supreme Court advocate.

Ribhu added that according to a 2010 Right To Information report, close to 28 children have died during 2006 and 2010 in Bal Nirikshan Grih (OHG), Nirmal Chhaya complex, Jail Road and the home has no explanation for it. “When there is no authority to oversee children homes and orphanages in any city, how can we prevent the abuse of children in places like Arya orphanage and on the streets?” he asked.

Meanwhile, many activists believe that building CWC offices with no facilities won’t serve any purpose. “The members working in CWCs have to be trained. The support in terms of funds, infrastructure etc from the government's end is less. Due to no standard operational procedure for CWCs in the city, they function in a haphazard manner,” said Bharati Ali, director HAQ, a civil rights group.

Shireen Vakil Miller, director of advocacy and policy with Save the Children echoed similar views: “CWCs are empowered to take action against erring child welfare institutions but they wait for the complainant to take action. There has to be a strict monitoring mechanism devised by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to ensure that CWC members use their power.”

In response to the issue, Rajiv Kale, Director of Women and Child said, “The government does not plan to increase the number of the CWCs” in the city but “improving the infrastructure at the existing ones can be looked at.”

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