Child Welfare Committee should have members of civil society

TIMES OF INDIA

GURGAON: Unlike other cities like Delhi where civil society manages the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), in Gurgaon it’s the administration that runs the show. This fact not only hampers the functioning of the committee, but also creates confusion between the NGOs engaged in child welfare on the one hand and the administration on the other.

In Gurgaon, the deputy commissioner is also the chairperson of the CWC, while other officials from the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), district child welfare officer, district social welfare officer, a government-appointed social worker, besides the chief medical officer, DCP (headquarters) and district attorney, are other members.

Officials from NGOs and other organizations working in the field of child rights alleged that it takes undue time in getting a simple job done related to care and protection of a child. “As members are subordinate to the deputy commissioner in the administration set-up, no CWC official raises any question and simply follows his order in letter and spirit. CWC members should not be bureaucrats, said an owner of an NGO, adding that the officials might be efficient but they lack expertise and the necessary sensitivity in handling a child-related case.

Organizations demanded constitution of CWC based on provisions in Juvenile Justice Act (2000). “The members of the civil society having experience in child issues should be the chairperson and members of the committee. The Gurgaon DC is busy in his other works and how can one expect him to be present in any hearing, said a senior official from another NGO.

Childline (1098), Gurgaon, which provides emergency outreach service for children, also face a similar problem. Rishi Kant, spokesperson, NGO Shakti Vahini which runs Childline in Gurgaon said, “We don’t officials in CWC. There should be a proper bench of magistrates for deciding any order. Given the volume of cases and issues reported in Gurgaon, the CWC office should be functional for at least three days. Moreover, the order should be in accordance with the Juvenile Justice Act.” In Gurgaon, mostly a decision is taken by an individual member,Kant said.

Even the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has raised objection to the way CWC functions in Gurgaon. NCPCR member Vinod Kumar Tikoo, said, “We having raising this issue for the last one and a half years and asking the state government to revamp the set-up. The government has been asked to set up the CWC in accordance with JJ Act (2000) and JJ Rules.” “There are advantages of not having a committee with government officials. Administrative officials will have more inter-departmental authority. The deputy commissioner here, for instance, is so busy that it becomes difficult to take time out for the welfare committee,” said P C Meena, Gurgaon deputy commissioner.

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