Legislature committee blames Government for apathy
The Legislature Committee on Women and Child Welfare has observed in its report submitted to the House that the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has been rendered “sick” because of the Government's failure to strengthen it with adequate infrastructure and powers.
In the report submitted to the Legislative Council on January 11, the committee has said that the commission is plagued by a plethora of problems ranging from grossly inadequate staff to improper fixing of the status of its members.
Not to full capacity
This has resulted in the body not functioning to its full capacity. The commission has been able to resolve only 10 of the 150 complaints before it, the committee noted.
In a significant observation, the committee has said that the manner in which the rules for the State commission have been conceived is not in consonance with the guiding Central legislation, Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005.
It has noted that the National commission's chairperson has the powers and salary on a par with the Cabinet Secretary, while its counterpart in Karnataka draws a salary of Rs. 3,500 a month despite it being a full-time post. None of the members is a full-timer, and members draw a sitting fee of Rs. 500 per meeting.
The committee has also noted that most posts in the commission are vacant, with only four clerks appointed to handle all the cases in Karnataka. It has no vehicle of its own; it does not have a full-time secretary. In the absence of infrastructure, the commission has not been able to utilise all the funds allocated for the year 2009-10.
The committee, headed by MLA Bidarur Shivashailappa Virupakshappa, has set a deadline of three months for the Government to look into all these issues and “rejuvenate” the commission.
Letter to Chief Justice
The Legislature Committee report echoes what has been a long-pending demand of the commission that was set up in 2009. The inadequacies are highlighted in the annual report of the commission also.
Commission Chairperson Nina P. Nayak had earlier written to the Governor and the Chief Justice of Karnataka drawing attention to the roadblocks in the functioning of the commission, including the fact that the status of the chairperson and members is at present equal to that of Group ‘C' employees of the Government.
“We are receiving more and more complaints from all corners of Karnataka, but are not able to pay attention to all of them to the extent necessary because our members do not work full time,” said Ms. Nayak. Interestingly, while Delhi and Bihar have framed rules for their child rights commissions in consonance with the Central legislation, Karnataka's rules are way off the mark, added Ms. Nayak.
Niranjan Aradhya V.P., member of the commission, said that the ambit of responsibilities had grown further with the panel now being given charge of monitoring implementation of the Right to Education Act.