While NCPCR said such action of taking children to protest sites was prima facie in violation of the child protection laws, DCPCR has taken a contrary view on the issue.
The two child care homes -- Ummeed Aman Ghar for Boys and Khushi Rainbow Home for Girls, both run by Centre for Equity Studies where Mander, an ex-IAS officer is a director -- had moved the high court challenging NCPCR''s inspection report earlier this year.
Based on the NCPCR inspection report of October 2020, prosecution
was initiated against the two children homes.
In its affidavit before the court, NCPCR has stated that while “one of the girl shared that she along with 4-5 girls went to Jantar Mantar during CAA protest”, it found that elder boys were also sent to protests.
Such usage of children is illegal and prima facie a violation of Section 83(2) of Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, it claimed.
Differing with the NCPCR, the DCPCR has taken a stand before the high court that protesting against the government''s policy decision was not illegal and NCPCR''s conclusion in the inspection report “threatened the independent, impartial, neutral and sane nature that a child rights commission ought to exhibit”.
“All citizens including children are well within their right to know, discuss, debate on any issue facing India and form their own conclusions. The fear expressed by the NCPCR is rooted in the belief that children are stupid, have no agency and cannot think at all. DCPCR vehemently opposes such a belief and expects greater dignity be accorded to children.”, the affidavit by DCPCR said.
Besides the concerns raised over participation of children in protests, NCPCR has alleged that it was of the prima facie opinion that inadequate facilities were given at the two homes, which not only did not meet the minimum standards of norms laid down by the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and Rules, 2016 but also prima facie violated section 491 of the Indian Penal Code.
The inspection report also said that the two homes lacked any child protection policies, permitted foreign nationals to give voluntary services, did not follow social distancing protocols or give the true facts related to its funding.
NCPCR has asserted that it carried out a lawful preliminary inquiry upon receiving a complaint from an organization called Kalinga Rights Forum and that it was up to the authorities to take further necessary action in the matter.
In its affidavit, DCPCR has prayed for quashing of the inspection report of NCPCR and the consequent proceedings against the two child care institutions on the ground that except for some specific shortcomings, the allegations lacked substance and merit, and were not borne out by the evidence.
“Broadly, all the four inspections conducted by the said three statutory bodies (District Inspection Committee, Child Welfare Committee and State Inspection Committee) contradict the observations made by the NCPCR. All of them have recorded their observation and recommendation that disputes the findings made in the inspection report of the National Commission of Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)”, the affidavit by DCPCR reads.
The petition by the two homes also challenges the show cause notice issued to it by The Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, based on the Inspection Report of the NCPCR.
On April 7, the court had granted four weeks to NCPCR, DCPCR and other respondents to file their counter-affidavits.
The court had said that any action taken by the authorities would be subject to the outcome of the petitions. PTI ADS RKS