Srinagar: The J&K government Wednesday constituted a seven member committee headed by Chief Secretary to prevent child labour in the state.
The panel has been formed in consonance with the directions by the Supreme Court of India which among others also directs registration of First Information Report (FIR) and setting up of shelter homes for missing children in different states.
Besides the Chief Secretary, the panel comprises administrative secretaries of Social Welfare, Labour and Environment departments, Labour Commissioner (J&K), Inspector General Police headquarters (J&K), Director Family Welfare (J&K) and two psychiatrists, one each to be nominated by Principal of Medical College Jammu and Srinagar.
The apex court had passed directions on formation of the committee while hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), founded by co-winner of the recent Nobel Peace Prize, Kailash Satyarthi.
In its order on January 17 2013, the apex court had issued two interim directions by making mandatory recording of FIR regarding missing children and setting up of special juvenile police units, in accordance with the provisions of Section 63 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. It was amended in 2006 and is referred now as the “Juvenile Justice Act”.
The court had also asked state government to ensure that there is one officer of the special juvenile police unit stationed at every police station, in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
On May 10, 2013, the apex court directed that in case a missing child is not recovered within four months from the date of filing of the FIR, the matter may be forwarded to the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit in order to enable latter to take up more intensive investigation.
The Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, court had said, shall file periodical status reports after every three months to keep the legal services authorities updated.
In cases where FIRs have not been lodged at all and the child is still missing, an FIR should be lodged within a month and further investigation may proceed on that basis, the court had said.
Once a child is recovered, the court had said, the police authorities shall carry out further investigation to see whether there is an involvement of any trafficking in the procedure by which the child went missing and if, on investigation, such links are found, the police shall take appropriate action thereupon.
The state authorities, court had said, shall arrange for adequate shelter homes to be provided for missing children who are recovered and do not have any place to go to.
“Any private home, being run for the purpose of sheltering children, shall not be entitled to receive a child, unless forwarded by the Child Welfare Committee and unless they comply with all the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, including registration.”
As per petitioner, the number of children missing in India was almost 90,000 every year, with more than 30,000 remaining untraced.
As the term ‘missing children’ had not been defined in any statute, the cases were not being handled properly and the fate of the children hinged on the whims and fancies of authorities, it said. The statute recognised only abduction and kidnapping, the BBA said.
The petition said the missing children were being exploited as labourers, commercial sexual workers and in an adoption racket. It sought a direction to the Centre, the dtates and UTs to come out with a national action plan; to treat the kidnapping or trafficking in children as a non-bailable and cognisable offence and to prepare a national database on missing children.