Child rights panel told to maintain independence

The Commission for Child Rights is an independent body and the members need to maintain that independence at any cost, said child rights activist Vasudev Sharma and former member of the Child Rights Commission.

He was speaking at a felicitation programme for the former members of the Commission organised by Samajika Parivarthana Janandolana (SPJ).

Sharma said their experience with the departments of the State, especially the Department of Women and Child Development which is the nodal department for the Commission, had taught them that it was important to stress upon the powers the Commission enjoyed and exercise the rights in the face of stiff resistance to some of its recommendations. 

“Everyone from the child development project officer to the minister will try to tell us what to do. Future members should make it very clear that they are an independent body,” he said.

‘Be pro-people’

Sharma said the members should not wait till complaints came to them and they had to go the people to make sure  problems with child rights were addressed.

Nina Nayak, former chairperson of the Commission, pointed out that the members were merely representatives and that it was an unique opportunity for people in the civil society to get powers to redress issues.

Recalling her experience as the first chairperson of the Commission, Nayak said most of the deputy commissioners did not even know the existence of the Child Welfare Committees present in each district or their functions, and one of the first things they had to do was create awareness. She suggested that the future members build a rapport with the people by interacting directly and ensuring the veracity of the cases rather than relying on reports given by people in the government. 

“Complaints are the heart of the Commission. That is where you have to start,” she recommended. She also recollected the struggle faced by them when they started out in a small room and had to struggle even to get some office space and other facilities.

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