An appeal has been made to the Union government to ensure that the Child Welfare Committees (CWC) set up across the country are headed by retired judges.
Advocate Baburaj Palladan, who is also a former member of the Mysuru District CWC and Juvenile Justice Board, has written a letter to Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi with a request to take necessary steps to ensure that retired judges preside over CWCs in the country. In recent times, several cases entangled in legal complexities are coming up before the CWC, which require an understanding of the provisions of Criminal Procedure Code, he said.
“Cases pertaining to the Child Marriage Prohibition Act, Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, Juvenile Justice Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act regularly come up before the CWC and the present members, who are social workers, are not capable of disposing off the cases on time as they have poor knowledge of the law and procedures,” Mr. Baburaj said.
Each case that comes up before the CWC has to be disposed off within four months as per the JJ Act, 2015. “However, there are several cases that are pending for more than a year without (the CWC passing) any final order,” he added.
The training imparted to members by the State Government’s Department of Women and Child Development is not sufficient to understand the legal intricacies and procedures, Mr. Baburaj said.
In Mysuru, there are cases that are pending for more than one and half year. Referring to the sixteen children, who were separated from their caregivers after the Mysuru district police unearthed a child trafficking racket in November 2016, Mr. Baburaj told The Hindu that the children are ‘detained in orphanages’ despite their caregivers seeking their custody under foster care.
As the members have a poor knowledge of law, the inordinate delay in granting justice to the children has become routine, he lamented.
While the Juvenile Justice Board in each district is presided over by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, the CWC is headed by an ordinary social worker who lacks knowledge and experience in law.
Hence, Mr. Baburaj advocated the appointment of retired judges as presiding officers of CWC along the lines of the Lok Adalat or Consumer Grievances Redressal Forum.