In a delayed response to the dissolution of the district Child Welfare Committee by the Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD), nine organisations of the district came together on Friday to condemn the “high-handed” action.
The district CWC, which is a bench of magistrates constituted under the Juvenile Justice Act of 2000, ceased to exist after all three of its members, including its chairperson, were sacked on December 5. The department’s action came in response to a police complaint filed by the CWC that charged senior department officials with robbing sensitive files from the CWC office.
Expressing doubts over the legal standing of the sacking order, the organisations questioned the propriety of an executive body sacking a judicial body. “Since when did the executive wing get the powers to dismiss a Bench of magistrates? It is a clear case of executive overreach and interference in the working of a court,” said Lolaksha, the district president of Ahinda, during Friday’s press conference called to announce the groups’ demands.
He pointed out that the case files which were forcibly taken away from the office of the CWC on December 5 were extremely sensitive in nature and pertained to grave violations of child rights. “But most importantly, these cases pertain to violations committed by politicians and officials of the DWCD,” he said.
Alleging a “nexus” between politicians, officials and child traffickers, Mr. Lolaksha said that the Dakshina Kannada CWC was actually feted as the best CWC in the State for 2007-08. “This award was given by the same department that has today sacked its CWC members. The question that begs asking is what went wrong? And why did the department suddenly turn against the CWC?”
According to Ramesh Kumar, city secretary of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), trouble began when the new Deputy Director of the DWCD took over. “Her political ties and affiliations are well known,” he said.
Calling for the immediate reinstatement of the sacked magistrates, the organisations said that the department officials who “stole” the files from the CWC office should be immediately arrested.
The organisations are also demanding that the State Government transfer all sensitive cases to the Central Bureau of Investigation for inquiry.
“If the State Government does not hand over the cases, we will appeal to the Centre and launch a massive agitation,” said Mr. Lolaksha.
The DYFI, the Students Federation of India, Ahinda, Shikshana Sampanmoola Kendragala Okkoota, Makkala Maasotsava Samiti, Bala Karmika Paddati Virodhi Andolana, Karavali Karnataka Janabhivruddhi Vedike, Citizens’ Forum for Mangalore Development and the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, came together to address the press conference.