Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: In a bid to prevent character assassination of child victims by investigating agencies, the Union Ministry for Women & Child Development (WCD) has decided to use the murder of Aarushi Talwar as a case for tightening existing legal provisions and drafting a new law if needed.

A first step in this direction was taken by Union Minister of State for WCD Renuka Chowdhury on Monday by convening a meeting of lawyers, NGOs and members of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

Officials of the Union Law Ministry were present at the meeting which explored the legal options available and also decided to study the training programme for police personnel to make it more sensitive to gender and child issues.

Briefing journalists after the meeting, Ms. Chowdhury said all laws — and not just the recently amended Juvenile Justice Act — would be examined with a fine toothcomb to see if there are provisions to act against police personnel for the way they tarnished the character of 14-year-old Aarushi.

“We do have a number of laws, but it would help if there was greater clarity to ensure that child victims are given due respect; dead or alive.”

Asked if she was satisfied with Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to transfer three police officials for the way they handled the investigation and the kind of remarks they made about Aarushi, the Minister said: “I do not think that is action at all. We are outraged and horrified at the loose talk by the police even before the investigation had been concluded. The police are not authorised to issue character certificates.”

NCPCR members are understood to have informed the Minister that the Commission was contemplating legal action against the police.

It was pointed out that Gautam Buddha Nagar — the district where the Talwar home is located — did not have a Child Welfare Committee as is mandated by the Juvenile Justice Act.

The media also came in for sharp criticism; particularly for the manner in which some channels reported the murder. Though the Minister maintained that nothing was decided at the meeting, it is understood that the Public Interest Litigation route is being considered to rein in the police and the media in such cases.