Government all set to appoint politicians to child rights panel

Government all set to appoint politicians to child rights panel

At a time when the Karnataka State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) needs proactive members to deal with increasing crimes against children, the government is all set to make political and caste-based appointments to the body, in clear violations of the rules.

KSCPCR chairperson Umesh Aradhya is being pressured by a section of politicians and senior bureaucrats in the Women and Child Welfare Department to resign three months before his term ends, according to sources privy to proceedings in the commission. Aradhya took charge in July 2012 on a three-year term.

In all likelihood, Congress party member from Mangaluru, Kripa Alva, will replace him as the next chairperson of the KSCPCR.

For the record, Alva has already met junior-level staff in the commission. A highly placed source said: “Not only has Umesh Aradhya been pressured to resign, but Alva has also already told some of the staff members at the KSCPCR that she would take charge in April.”

The tenure of the chairperson and six members of the commission is three years, after which the government has to invite fresh applications for selecting new members. As per rules, the government must advertise the same in newspapers.

 A three-member committee, which includes the principal secretary of the Women and Child Welfare Department, has to scrutinise the applications and forward them to the minister concerned.

Child rights activists say such political appointments would be disastrous to the commission. Rules stipulate that a person who is part of the commission cannot have any political affiliation.

Other criteria
Other criteria include a minimum qualification of Master’s degree and a long-term experience in dealing with child rights at grassroots and policy levels.

Eminent child rights activist Suchitra Rao, who is Program Manager at India Literacy Project, said the commission was not a learning ground but a serious monitoring body that needed an expert who was passionate about the cause.

Regulations
“Any person who is part of the commission should know the regulations on the tip of their fingers and be proactive in taking measures in the interest of children,” she told Deccan Herald. “The responsibility on them is huge.”

Such experts need not necessarily be child rights activists alone but could also be an eminent person with relevant experience in the field of medicine or education, she added.
Rajneesh Goel, Principal Secretary, Women and Child Welfare Department, was not available for comment but officials in the department insisted they were unaware of any proceedings pertaining to the KSCPCR.

When Deccan Herald contacted Kripa Alva, she said the government had not intimated anything to her in this regard. Even though she has never specifically worked in the area of child rights, she is passionate about the cause.

She is a social worker and as a member of the Lions Club, she has been part of several programmes carried in the interest of children, she added.

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