J. Venkatesan, The Hindu
‘It is the duty of States to create healthy environment in which children can bloom’
The Supreme Court has expressed concern over sexual exploitation of children and lack of preventive action by the States, and directed their Chief Secretaries to put an end to the menace.
In January this year, the court directed all States and Union Territories to implement the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 and the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005.
During the resumed hearing on Monday, a Bench of Justices S.S. Nijjar and Ibrahim Kalifulla noted that many States and Union Territories had not complied with the directions.
“Although affidavits have been filed indicating that State Commissions have been established, we find that such establishment is only on paper. In many States, the Chairman of the Commission has not been appointed and in some States even members have not been appointed. This apart, necessary rules and regulations have not been framed. This … would be sufficient justification for this court to take a serious view and initiate appropriate proceedings for contempt of court against the defaulting States and Union Territories.”
The Bench said: “Given the lackadaisical manner in which the States and Union Territories have responded to the concern shown by this court in relation to the wholly unacceptable situation prevailing and to stamp out any further exploitation of children, it has become necessary to re-emphasise that it is the bounden duty of the States under Articles 21, 21A, 23, 24, 45 and 51A (k) of the Constitution to create and maintain a protective and healthy environment in which children, who are the future of this country, can bloom and subsequently become mature and responsible citizens.
“We have been pained to notice the utterly callous attitude adopted by the States as well as Union Territories. We, therefore, have no option at this stage but to issue some further mandatory directions to ensure that the exploitation of children in all spheres of life is brought to an end with the utmost expedition. Surely, the States and Union Territories must realise that they have to operate under the Constitution.. We direct that the Chief Secretaries of all the States to which notices have been issued shall file an affidavit within eight weeks from the date of this order disclosing full details of implementation of the obligations specified under the three Acts.”
In the unlikely event of non-compliance with any part of the directions, “an officer of the rank of Principal Secretary of the State government shall remain present in person in the court to clarify the issues with respect to the failure to implement the directions. If for any reason, the affidavit is not filed by the Chief Secretary before the next date of hearing, then also the officer of the rank referred to above shall remain present in person to explain the the State’s failure to submit the affidavit.”