SC laments fight between NCPCR and WBCP on jurisdiction

SC laments fight between NCPCR and WBCP on jurisdiction

“This case is a classic example where, in the fight between the State Commission and the National Commission, the children have been all but forgotten," a bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose said.

The Supreme Court on Monday lamented the unsavoury fight between the National as well as West Bengal Commission for the Protection of Child Rights over the jurisdiction to inquire into the 2017 illegal trafficking of orphans from a child care institution in Jalpaiguri for adoption abroad.

“This case is a classic example where, in the fight between the State Commission and the National Commission, the children have been all but forgotten. We are sorry that this court has to spend its time resolving such disputes. This court as well as the two major parties litigating before us definitely have better things to do,” a bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose said.

The court said the two institutions were in the nature of siblings. The goal, which they both set out to achieve, was for protecting children from all sorts of abuse, exploitation etc. But instead of cooperation, there was mudslinging between the two.

The NCPCR here took cognisance of news report of illegal trafficking of children on March 3, 2017 and asked the state officials to provide them some information. On their failure, it summoned Additional Director General of Police, CID Rajesh Kumar, who chose to file a writ petition before the Calcutta HC, which had on August 29, 2017, stayed the NCPCR's direction, saying that since the State Commission had taken cognizance of the matter on February 24, 2017, the NCPCR had prima facie no jurisdiction.

Citing provisions of the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005, the bench said that there was no question of ouster of jurisdiction of any Commission as both have similar powers and functions.

“The language of the CPCR Act is clear that if the State Commission or any other Commission constituted under the law has started an inquiry then the National Commission should stay its hands in the matter,” the court said.

In the instant case, the court said the National Commission was definitely entitled to inquire as to why proper Child Welfare Committees had not been constituted and under what orders were ad hoc CWCs functioning.

“We are constrained to observe that in this clash of egos between the WBCPCR and NCPCR, for this entire period, other than the police taking action, nothing was done on the administrative side to set matters right,” the bench said.

In case a child was being illegally sent for adoption abroad, we are of the view that if the State Commission asks for assistance from the National Commission or some other State Commission, they should cooperate with the inquiry, the bench said.

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