A grievance redress mechanism for cases relating to child rights will soon be set up by the Department of Social Defence, which functions under the Social Welfare Department.

The State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR), as mandated by the Right to Education (RTE) Act, is expected to be constituted soon, said an official at the Department of Social Defence. Officials said they were waiting for the local body polls to get over.

The SCPCR will function as an independent body that will have suo motto powers to investigate into any case that deals with complaints relating to violation of the RTE and child rights. It can also hold public hearings when required.

“The SCPCR is the only body at the local level that can deal with issues in relating to the implementation of the RTE Act. The Act will be made stronger if the Commission functions with credibility. The SCPCR will be a crucial link between the complainant and the government, and will be able to pressurise the government to act upon the complaint,” said Kiran Bhatty, national co-ordinator, State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). As per the RTE, the basic function of the SCPCR will be to “examine and review the safeguards for rights provided under the Act and recommend effective measures to implement it.”

The rules that outline the functions of the SCPCR and the members who will constitute it has been framed and approved by the Law Department. It is expected to be notified within a fortnight, said a School Education Department official.

Ms. Bhatty stressed the need for the independent functioning of the SCPCR. “It is important for Tamil Nadu to have a Commission that has members with experience and integrity. In most States, the SCPCRs set up are merely an eyewash, as they have either had members with political lineation or people who hold other responsibilities and are merely part of the SCPCR,” she said.

Around 11 States have so far constituted the SCPCR. In the absence of the SCPCR, the Act requires that the Right to Education Protection Authority (REPA) be constituted which was not set up in the State since 2005, say activists. The SCPCR will submit annual reports to the Assembly. The commission will include former judges and also people who have been actively working for child rights after applications are called for, said the official.