A child rights activist of the city has appealed to the Union Minister for Women and Child Development to nominate retired judges to the Child Welfare Committees (CWCs).
P P Baburaj, an advocate and former member of the Child Welfare Committee and Juvenile Justice Board, has written a letter to the Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, in this connection.
"In recent times, several cases that come up before the CWCs are entangled with legal complexities. The CWC has to be conducted as per the provisions of Criminal Procedure Code, as provided in the Juvenile Justice Act (JJA), 2015. Cases pertaining to Child Marriage Prohibition Act, Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, Juvenile Justice Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act regularly come before CWCs. However, the present social worker members are not capable of disposing of the cases on time as they have little knowledge of law and procedures," he said.
'Training not sufficient'
Baburaj said that each case that comes before the CWC has to be disposed of within four months, as per the JJA. "However, several cases are pending before the CWCs for more than one year. The training imparted by the state Department of Women and Child Development is not adequate to understand the legal provisions and procedures. The five members in CWCs deal with the law like the proverbial 'blind men describing an elephant'," he said.
He said, "In Mysuru CWC, some cases are pending since more than one and a half years. In some cases, the children have guardians, while in some cases the children are in orphanages. As the members lack knowledge of the law, the delay in giving justice to the children has become a norm."
The Juvenile Justice Board under JJA is presided over by a Chief Judicial Magistrate in every district. But the CWC is presided over by a social worker, which is a weakness for the judicial body. So, nomination of retired judges as presiding officers to CWCs similar to the Lok Adalat or Consumer Redressal Forum is advisable as suggested in Rule 15(3) of the Central Juvenile Justice Model Rules, 2016," the advocate said.