Call to revamp State child protection commission

Even as the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) is gearing up to mark the silver jubilee of United Nations Conventions on the Right of the Child (UNCRC), the child protection commission is unable to measure up to national standards.

Activists and researchers have called for an overhaul to set the structure right for the commission to stand on a par with neighbouring states. The KSCPCR does not have full-time members, which is one of the major loopholes affecting its functioning, unlike those in Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.

The chairperson of the commission is equal to the rank of the chief secretary in some states, while that is not the case with Karnataka. Further, salaries and travel allowances of members too fail to meet the minimum standards, owing to which the commission is seeing huge attrition, according to a section of the commission members.

The commission is also expected to have an RTE Cell and a POCSO Cell but is yet to have dedicated cells.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, one of the members of the commission, requesting anonymity said: “Even though Karnataka has been proactive in Child Rights, several measures needed to be taken to strengthen the commission. There is not a single researcher in the commission. The commission’s secretary is supposed to be of IAS cadre. It is high time that the State government looked into these issues.” 

Another member added that the commission needed executive power, apart from the members requiring power to review district officers. “We do not have power to take action against the culprit. This is one of the reasons why the commission members are not taken seriously.”

Members who stay outside the city also feel they are tied up due to restrictions on travel facilities. While they are allowed to take buses and trains, they felt that they needed permission to hire cars as waiting for tickets in public transport would only delay their presence at the required place, in case of an emergency.

Sawagata Raha, legal researcher who has extensively studied the functioning of Child Protection Commissions across the country opined that the problem with KSCPCR was the rules. “The KSCPCR Rules were challenged before the High Court. The court gave directions to the State government to review the same. Yet, these set of rules do not live up to the national standards.”

To enable Karnataka State Commission for the Protection Child Rights to render its services more effectively, a team of researchers at the Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University (NLSIU) have made a set of recommendations for reviewing the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights Rules, 2010.

The team has suggested amendments and additions to the existing rules. The team has proposed that the chairperson of the Commission and its members be appointed on the recommendation of a three-member selection committee constituted by the State government. It said the committee should function under the chairmanship of Minister in charge of Women and Child.

Seeking revision in the practice of meetings held by the commission, the team has said commission members make regional visits and hold public hearings at least once every year in all regions of State.

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