Children are the future of any society and the care of the children in every society needs to be prioritized as they are the most vulnerable section of the society and any change in society directly or indirectly impacts the children.
Nelson Mandela once said:
“History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children”
The government of India brought the Juvenile justice act. In section 27 of the Juvenile justice act, provision of child welfare committee provided. Which is the final authority at the district level to provide care, protection, treatment, development, and rehabilitation of the children which are in the need.
This provision provided that, every district should have a child welfare committee in which one Chairman and four members should be there. Out of which one woman and an expert should also be a member.
They are appointment by the state government and provide training and sensitization towards the children.
No person shall be appointed if they don’t have specialization and experience in psychology, child welfare, and some technical expertise experience in the field of care and rehabilitation of children.
To support the child welfare committee, the District Child Protection unit shall be established to supplement the child welfare committee for their effective and efficient functioning.
The tenure of the members is three years and they are appointed by the state governments. The members can be terminated if indulged in misusing of power.
There is a very important provision in the act that if any member doesn’t attend 3 months of consecutive meeting or not present in 75% of the total sitting can be removed by the state government.
This welfare committee tries to make a relation between the child and conflicting laws.
It provides care, treatment, and protection to the child if there is conflict in any decision between the members and chairman or between the members. The decisions are taken by the majority and in case of a tie, the chairman’s opinion prevails.
The child welfare committee is operated according to UN convention on the rights of child 1984 which provide 4 provisions;
1. Right to survival of the children
2. Right to protection of the children
3. Right to participation of the children
4. Right to development of the children.
India has different laws for children’s welfare, protection, development, and well being, but one thing is conflicting that the definition of children is vague in some act or law child defined as those under 16 years of age in the other law child it is defined as those under the 18-years of age but the UN defines any person less than 18 years of age as a child.
According to the data provided by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Juvenile crime has rapidly increased during the period between 2012 to 2014, There has been an increase of 30% in Juvenile crime during this time period.
According to some studies, 70% of accused in juvenile crime are only 6 months or less in attaining the age of 18.
Powers and functions of the child welfare committee:
1. Can conduct an inquiry into various types of cases: The inquiry is conducted by the members provide and they provide the solution between the Children and the conflicting law.
2. Child care direction: As some of the children are vulnerable like Divyang, mentally imbalanced, so the child welfare committee provides direction to the registered placement Centre for special care if needed.
3. Take cognizance, receive children and produce them before the court: It means that the committee can take cognizance and investigate the children and produce them in the court in a procedure established by law.
4. Investigation: If any case related to a child comes under the child welfare committee, they investigate the matter and give a child-friendly decision that reduces the physical, mental and psychological impact on the child.
5. Placement in selected registered institutions: Many civil societies and NGOs have collaborated with the child welfare committee and act as rehabilitation centers for the child.
The child welfare committee’s decision to place a child in any NGO or civil society is taken after a proper procedure.
6. Protection and rehabilitation: In any case related to a child under the child welfare committee get the right to protect and rehabilitate the children in a child-friendly environment after some inquiry.
7. Coordination with police and labour department: As these are the main authority which has first reported many cases of child destitute so child welfare committee remains in regular touch with police and Labour Department.
8. Access legal services: As children are unable to access legal services, the child welfare committee act as a bridge between them and provides the necessary support to the child in this regard.
All the child welfare committees are doing a great job but there is a need to create awareness and public sensitization towards the children and proactive action should be taken by the district authorities and concerned Department.
This article is written by;
Mr. Pankaj Kumar Gupta
(Email ID: [email protected])