Children in Street Situation: Supreme Court Directs States to Implement NCPCR SOP

Team SoOLEGAL 22 Feb 2022 7:09pm

Children in Street Situation: Supreme Court Directs States to Implement NCPCR SOP

NEW DELHI: On Monday, the Supreme Court directed state governments and union territories to implement the recommendations made by the National Commission for the Protection or Child Rights (NCPCR) in the standard operating procedure for care and protection of Children in street situations 2.0 (SOP 2.0) with regard to Children in Street Situations (CiSS). However, the Supreme Court provided State Government freedom to approach the NCPCR with amendments if necessary.

A bench comprised of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and B.R. Gavai was delighted to notice that the SOP 2.0 provides for a complete framework, which includes identification of CiSS, recognition, classification, steps to ensure care and protection, and rehabilitation.

“We have carefully examined the suggestions which are comprehensive in nature dealing with all conceivable situations. Subject to certain modifications that may be suggested by State Governments, the suggestions made by the NCPCR shall be implemented by the State Governments/Union Territories.”

The bench had earlier been informed by Mr. Gaurav Agarwal, Amicus Curiae in the issue that in the lack of a consistent policy for CiSS rehabilitation, there is no uniformity in the methods implemented by different states. In light of this, the bench directed the state governments to develop a rehabilitation policy in cooperation with the NCPCR. As a result, after extensive debate, the current SOP 2.0 was developed.

“During the course of hearing of this matter on 17.01.2022, Gaurav Agarwal, Ld. Amicus Curiae submitted that there is no policy for rehabilitation of CiSS framed either by Central Government or State Governments. In the absence of such policy the stand taken by the State Governments for rehabilitation of CiSS rescued is not uniform. This court directed the state governments to formulate policy for rehabilitation of CiSS with the guidance of NCPCR. After holding the discussions with State Governments/Union territories NCPCR has made suggestions for formulation of rehabilitation policy for CiSS.”

The bench emphasized the need of ground – level implementation and monitoring.

“…this policy for which suggestions are made is being implemented or not. The State Government has to ensure implementation. The Counsels appearing for States have to impress upon the State Government to carry it out.”

It was suggested that the NCPCR meet with the states more frequently in order to adequately monitor the execution of the recommendations outlined in SOP 2.0 Mr. KM Nataraj, appearing for NCPCR, informed the bench that a direction from the court would be preferred in this respect due to a lack of co-operation on the side of several states. As a result, the bench noted in this order –

“NCPCR is directed to conduct periodical reviews preferably once a month to monitor the implementation of the suggestions that are made in addition to CiSS – SOP 2.0.”

The bench noted that, while no State Governments voiced objections during the hearing, the ideas in SOP 2.0 may require some modification in light of the ground realities of the individual states. Mr. Nataraj said that in such a case, the states can seek changes from the Supreme Court. However, the bench believed that reaching the NCPCR in such instances would be more beneficial.

“The Ld. Amicus Curiae also recommended the suggestions made by the NCPCR. At present there is no objection raised by any State Government with respect to the suggestions made by the NCPCR because suggestions are made after discussions with State Governments/Union Territories. In case any state government/union territories needs a deviation from suggestions made by NCPCR, they may approach NCPCR for suitable modification in the suggestions.”

The bench stated that a permanent solution for children rescued by state authorities will be implemented. They will need to be rehabilitated. Measures must be done to secure a long – term solution for their housing and education.

“The problem is rescuing children cannot be a temporary plan. It has to be ensured that they are rehabilitated. That has been dealt with in this suggestion.”

Mr. Nataraj emphasized four critical points that he considered demanded the Court’s immediate attention.

1.      The states are failing to update the Bal Swaraj webpage in defiance of multiple orders issued by the bench. Only 17,000 children’s information has been posted to the portal thus far.

2.      The states have yet to reply to NCPCR SOP 2.0.

3.      Police officials’ failure to report incidents to beggary is a breach of duty. When an officer notices a kid begging in public, they are required by Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2016 to open a case and ensure the child’s well – being.

4.      The district administration and related departments are not cooperating.

“I have pointed out four issues. There is no substantial improvement, only 17,000 children’s details have been uploaded till date…So, that is one thing which is a matter of concern. There is no update from some states despite directions on a couple of occasions. The second is that we have prepared a draft policy (SOP 2.0), which we have filed before this court. Now, the state governments have to file their responses. Third, the alarming situations are the duty of police under the act. Whenever begging takes place in public places…under the Act they are mandated to register a case and take care of the children. Section 75 of the JJ Act… Nothing has been done; nothing has been achieved, which has resulted in the continuation of this crime…the non cooperation from many states. There is total lack of cooperation from the district administration and various such bodies. We request for appropriate direction.”

Concerning the issue of a response from State with suggestions for modifications to the SOP 2.0, the bench noted that because the recommendations were formulated after a series of meetings with at least twenty state governments, seeking additional responses would only delay the process outlined in the SOP.

Observing that just 17,914 children’s details had been made accessible by the State Governments, despite the fact that the CiSS is estimated to be worth 15 – 20 lakhs, the bench reaffirmed its directive to the State Governments and Union Territories to update information on the site. It also requested that state officials co-ordinate their welfare efforts with NCPCR.

“Mr. Nataraj, ASG appearing on behalf of NCPCR submitted that information directed to be given by State Governments/Union Territories with respect to rescue and rehabilitation of CiSS is not being provided by State Governments/Union Territories. Till date information in relation to 17,914 CiSS had been provided, when rough estimate of CiSS being to the tune of 15 – 20 lakhs. We reiterate the direction that was given earlier that the concerned authorities in the states have to update the material that is required on the Web Portal of NCPCR without fail. NCPCR has also brought to our notice certain officers of State Governments/Union Territories have not been co-operating with NCPCR during the inspections and scrutiny done by the NCPCR. Collection of information is for implementation of certain schemes in favor of destitute children in street situations. We have no doubt in our mind that the state governments/union territories will extend full cooperation to NCPCR in their activities.”

The case will be rescheduled in four weeks. In the meanwhile, NCPCR is ordered to provide a progress report on the execution of the CiSS recommendations.

Tagged: Supreme   Court   Children   State   Order   Government   Protection   Central   CiSS   NCPCR   National   Commission   Protection   Child   Rights   Street   Justices   L   Nageshwara   Rao   Gavai   Amicus   Curiae  
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