Judges commend Social Welfare Department’s speed in issuing a G.O.

The Social Welfare Department has acted with unprecedented speed in issuing a Government Order appointing six members to the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights on Tuesday, the day when The Hindu reported the news of the Madras High Court Bench having expressed pain and anguish over inordinate delay in appointing the members.

The Government Order was produced before a Division Bench comprising Justice R. Sudhakar and Justice V.M. Velumani on Thursday by Special Government Pleader V.R. Shanmuganathan. The judges commended Social Welfare Secretary P.M. Basheer Ahmed for having taken steps on a war footing to constitute the commission in full as ordered by them on January 20.

The order was passed on a public interest litigation petition taken up by the court suo motu following a news report titled ‘Children hired and forced into begging in Tirunelveli’ in The Hindu on August 18, 2011. While hearing the case, the court wanted to know if the State Government had constituted a commission under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act 2005.

It was told that a Government Order constituting the State Commission was issued only on March 28, 2012, and another order appointing Saraswathi Rangasami as its Chairperson was issued on January 2, 2013. However, the members of the commission had not been appointed.

Holding that the commission might not be able to function effectively without the statutory requirement of six members, the court had ordered their appointment forthwith on January 20.

The court also directed the Social Welfare Department to report compliance of its order by February 3. But the department did not comply with the orders despite taking several adjournments. On Monday, a counter affidavit was filed on behalf of Mr.Ahmed stating that the proposal for appointment of members was under the active consideration of the government.

Displeased with such a general statement made by the Secretary, the Division Bench observed: “This court is not satisfied with the affidavit filed by the Social Welfare Secretary and the speed with which the file is moving for the appointment of six members to the Commission… We are pained to state that the court is being forced to push the department to perform even its statutory duty.”

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