1. What are Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (CPCRS)?
The Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005, (CPCR Act, 2005) provides for the creation of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights O\ICPCR) and State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCRS) by the central and state governments, respectively. The mandate of these Commissions is to examine safeguards for children and inquire into complaints of violation of child rights by the State, or private individuals or entities. Their mandate also includes inspecting custodial institutions for children, examining factors that affect the enjoyment of rights by children, and analyzing laws to examine their compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989 (UNCRC) and recommending remedial measures. The Commission is also meant to serve as a forum which children can access easily in order to seek redress for the violation of their rights.
The Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (CPCRS) belong to the general category of institutions known as ‘human rights institutions’. Other human rights institutions in India are the
National and State Human Rights Commissions, National and State Commissions for Women, National Commission‘ for Minorities, National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. Although they may come under a nodal Ministry/Department of the government, they are not a part of the government machinery. They are meant to function as independent institutions.
2. What are human rights institutions?
Human rights institutions are meant to function as independent human rights watchdogs at the domestic level. They may be created under the Constitution, through legislation, or through an
executive decree. Their key functions include evaluation of existing safeguards for human rights protection and making recommendation for strengthening them, inquiring into complaints of human rights violations, undertaking visits to custodial institutions, creating awareness about rights, ‘promoting harmonization of domestic laws with international conventions, and undertaking research and analysis on human rights issues. Commissions may be vested with quasi-judicial powers such as issuing summons, enforcing attendance, taking evidence, issuing commissions, etc., to enable them to look into complaints.
Key features of human rights institutions can be gleaned from the Principles relating to the Status of National Institutions, 1993 commonly referred to as the Paris Principles. These Principles are a set of internationally accepted minimum standards that States should seek to comply with while establishing national humyn rights institution. The Paris Principles provide that:
3. How have the Commission on Protection of Child Rights been constituted?
The Commissions are statutory bodies constituted by an Act of the Parliament. The Act received the President’s assent on 20 January, 2006 and came into force on 15 February 2007 through a notiﬁcation issued by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India.
4. What is the objective of the CPCR Act, 2005?
The objective of the Act is to provide for the constitution of a National Commission and State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights. The Act also provides for establishing Children’s Courts to ensure speedy trial of offences against children or of violation of child rights.
5. Is the Act applicable across India?
The Act applies to all states and Union Territories of India except the State of J ammu and Kashmir.
6. Has the CPCR Act been enacted to discharge India ’s obligation under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child?
Article 4 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) requires State Parties to the Convention to take appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures to implement the rights contained in the Convention. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors the implementation of the treaty at the international level based on the periodic reports submitted by national governments. This Committee, in response to the ﬁrst India Country report submitted by the Government of India in 1997, recommended in its Concluding Observations, that India should establish a statutory, independent Commission for children to monitor the implementation of the Convention and look complaints of child rights violations.
The CPCR Act, 2005 was passed to give effect to this obligation under the UNCRC. This is evident from the Preamble to the CPCR Act which states that the law was enacted to “give eﬂect to the policies adopted by the Government…, standards prescribed in the CRC, and all other relevantinternational instruments.”
1. What is the mandate of the CPCRS?
The CPCRS can look into complaints and examine safeguards pertaining to child rights. They can inquire into complaints against public servants as Well as private individuals on violation of child rights.
2. What is meant by child rights?
The CPCR Act, 2005, in Section 2 (b), deﬁnes “child rights” to include the children’s rights adopted in the UNCRC. The Convention recognises several rights of children.
The term “child” has not been deﬁned under the CPCR Act, 2005. However, by deﬁning child rights as adopted in the UNCRC, it implies that the CPCRs should respect Article 1 of the UNCRC which deﬁnes the term ‘child’ to mean “every human being below the age of eighteen years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.”Under the Indian Majority Act,1857,person domiciled in India attain majority upon completion of 18 years of age.Thus, it can be concluded that the Commission’s mandate extends to persons below the age of 18 years.
3. What are the functions of the NCPCR and SCPCRS?
The NCPCR and the SCPCRs have functions not only under the CPCR Act 2005, but also under the RTE 2009, the JJ Model Rules 2007, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act,2012.
1. Who appoints the Chairperson, Members and staff of the NCPCR and SCPCR?
The Central Government appoints the Chairperson, Members, Member—Secretary, staff and other employees of the NCPCR; and the concerned State Governments appoint the Chairperson, Members, Secretary, staff and other employees of the SCPCRS. The NCPCR Rules, 2006, have expressly empowered the NCPCR to appoint a panel of consultants to assist the Commission with its investigations, inquirﬁs, task forces, and for research and analysis. A similar provision appears in rules notiﬁed by States that have established a SCPCR.
2. Where are the Commissions located?
The NCPCR is located in New Delhi and most of the State Commissions are situated in the respective State capital. However, the NCPCR Rules, 2006 and Rules notiﬁed by many State
Governments allow the Commission to transact its business outside the headquarters with previous approval of the Chairperson of the Commission, and with at least two members forming a bench in case any parties are to be heard in connection to any inquiry at such a location.
3. What is the composition of the NCPCR and SCPCRS?
The Act states“ that the NCPCR and SCPCRS shall comprise of a Chairperson and six Members.
4. Who can be appointed as Chairperson and Members?
The Act does not list any speciﬁc qualiﬁcations for the Chairperson but states that she or he should be “a person of eminence” and should have done “outstanding work for promoting the welfare of children.” As per the NCPCR Rules 2006, in order to be eligible for appointment as Chairperson and Members of the NCPCR, the person should not have any past record of violation of human rights or child rights. Similar and additional provisions have been included in State Rules. For instance, the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights Rules, 2010, speciﬁes that persons should have a minimum of ﬁve years work experience in child rights and advocacy and should not be ofﬁce bearers or members of any political party.
The Act speciﬁes that Members should be drawn from “amongst persons of eminence, ability, integrity, standing and experience in” the following six ﬁelds:
(ii) child health, care, welfare or child development,
(iii) juvenile justice or care of neglected or marginalized children or children with disabilities;
(iv) elimination of child labour or children in distress;
(V) child psychology or sociology;
(vi) law relating to children.
5. Does the composition of the Commission reflect plurality?
The composition of the Commission reﬂects plurality to a certain extent by mandating that of the six members of the NCPCR and SCPCR, at least two should be women.
6. What is the appointment process for the Chairperson and Members?
The Central Government and State Governments have been given the authority to appoint the Chairperson and Members of the NCPCR and SCPCRS, respectively.The Chairpersons of both the NCPCR and SCPCRS have to be appointed on the basis of recommendation by a three member Selection Committee. This Committee is to be formed by the Central Government or the State Government, as the case may be, and at the national level is to be chaired by the Minister-in-charge of the Ministry of Women and Child Development. At the State level, this Committee is headed by the Minister-in-charge of the Department dealing with children.
7. Are the Commissions supposed to befall time bodies?
Yes, the Commissions are meant to function as full time bodies. This can be gleaned from the grounds of removal which state that a Member or Chairperson could be removed from ofﬁce if he or she engages in paid employment outside the duties of his ofﬁce.
1. Who is responsible for the administrative matters of the N CPCR and the SCPCRS?
The Member-Secretary and Secretary are responsible for the proper administration of the affairs and day-to-day management of the NCPCR and the SCPCRS respectively.
2. Who appoints the Member Secretary and Secretary?
While the Central Government appoints the Member-Secretary of the NCPCR, the State Government appoints the Secretary of the SCPCRS.
3. What is the rank of the Member-Secretary and Secretary?
The CPCR Act, 2005 states that the Member-Secretary should be an ofﬁcer not below the rank of the Joint Secretary or the Additional Secretary to the Government of India.At the State level, the Secretary of the State Commission should be an ofﬁcer not below the rank of the Secretary to the State Government.
4. What are the powers and duties of the Member-Secretary of the N CPCR ?
The NCPCR Rules 2006 lay down the powers and duties of the Member-Secretary of the NCPCR. He/she has the power to execute decisions of the Commission. The Member-Secretary is also responsible for convening meetings in consultation with the Chairperson, ensuring quorum for meetings, preparing and circulating agenda for meetings, and preparing minutes.
The Member-Secretary can also raise matters with respect to release of grants, creation of posts, appointment of staff, procurement of vehicles, revision of scales, and re-appropriation of funds etc.,with the approval with the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The Member-Secretary is the appointing and disciplinary authority with respect to the employees of the Commission. The Member-Secretary can also exercise ﬁnancial powers as may be delegated by the Chairperson.However, expenditure on an item which exceeds one lakh rupees will require the Chairperson’s approval.The Rules notiﬁed by different State Governments provide for similar duties although some of the Rules prescribe additional powers or duties for the Secretary.
1. Who can ﬁle a complaint before the Commission?
Anybody, including a child, can ﬁle a complaint before the Commission. The complaint could bring to the notice of the Commission an individual or large—scale violation of child rights. Complaints about violations occurring within a particular state can be made to the SCPCR or NCPCR. The NCPCR can hear complaints from any part of the country.
2. On what ground c&: complaints be rejected by the Commission?
While the Act does not specify any grounds for rejection of complaints, the NCPCR has, on its website indicated that complaints should be:
1. Clear and legible and not vague, anonymous or pseudonymous
2. Genuine, not trivial or frivolous Also, complaints should:
3. Not relate to civil disputes such as property rights, contractual obligations and the like
4. Not relate to service matters
5. Not be pending before any other Commission duly constituted under law or sub judice before a court/ tribunal
6. Not be already decided by the Commission
7. Not be outside the purview of the Commission on any other grounds
3. In what language should the complaints be made?
Complaints can be made to the NCPCR in any official language listed in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution. As regards the SCPCRS, complaints can be made in any of these languages, as well as in any of the local languages used in the State.
4. In what form can complaints be made?
Complaints can be made in any form. It could be in the form of a letter, fax or email addressed to the Commission or any of the Members. Information of a violation which requires urgent action can also be conveyed through telephone. When complaints are lodged orally, the Commission Would take suo motu notice of the same, meaning, it can take up the matter even without anyone submitting a complaint. The NCPCR also accepts complaints online at http://ncpcronline.info/onlineForm/onlineform.aspx
5. Is there a time limit within which complaints have to be ﬁled?
The CPCR Act does not specify any limitation period for ﬁling or entertaining complaints. However, it is advisable that complaints be ﬁled soon after the alleged violation so as to enable a
prompt inquiry into the incident and speedy relief to the victim.
6. Do any fees have to be paid for ﬁling a complaint?
No fees have to be paid for ﬁling a complaint.
7. Is there a hierarchy between the NCPCR and SCPCRS?
No. There is no hieraichy between the two bodies. There is no provision of an ‘appeal’ to the NCPCR on a matter which SCPCR has already looked into. Further, both the NCPCR and SCPCRS discharge identical functions and enjoy the same powers. However, there is no bar in approaching the NCPCR in the ﬁrst instance, or in approaching the NCPCR if the SCPCR has not acted or there is no positive outcome.
8. Can one simultaneously ﬁle complaints with other Commissions such as the National Human Rights Commission, the State Human Rights Commission, the National Commission for Women, or the State Commission for Women?
No. This is not generally advisable. Most Commissions will not entertain matters which are being looked into by other Commissions. This is in order to prevent duplication of inquiries, secondary victimization to “the child about whom the complaint is made and to avoid to problems relating to jurisdiction. For instance, the CPCR Act clearly prohibits the NCPCR from inquiring into matters pending before other Commissions.
9. Can one simultaneously ﬁle a complaint with the NCPCR and the concerned SCPCR?
This is not advisable. Besides, the CPCR Act clearly prohibits the NCPCR from inquiring into matters pending before a SCPCR.
1. What are the powers available to a Commission relating to inquiries?
The Commissions have been vested with powers of a civil court which can be exercised while inquiring into complaints. Speciﬁcally, the Commission has the power to:
(a) summon a person and examine him on oath;
(b) order discovery and production of any document;
(c) receive evidence on afﬁdavits;
(d) requisition public records or copies from court or ofﬁce;
(e) issue commissions for the examination of witnesses or documents. A commission can be issued for examination of a person who is residing within the jurisdiction of the Commission but is exempted from attendance or is unable to attend because of sickness or inﬁrmity. Commissions can also be issued wherea local investigation is necessary.In the event that an exercise of any of the above powers by a Commission does not result in compliance, the Commisyion can forward the case to a Magistrate who has the jurisdiction to hear the
matter for action.
2. What steps can the Commission undertake after inquiry?
The Commission can take any of the following three steps after the conclusion of the inquiry:
(1) Recommend Action: If the ﬁndings of the inquiry establish violation of child rights of a serious nature, the Commission can recommend to the Government to initiate proceedings for prosecution or take any other appropriate action. For instance, if the inquiry reveals that an offence against a child may have been committed, the Commission could ask the police to ﬁle a First Information Report (FIR). The Commission cannot, however, make pronouncements on guilt or order for suspensions or impose ﬁnes orpenalties.
(2) Approach the Supreme Court or the High Court: The Commission can ﬁle a writ before the
Supreme Court or High Court and pray for appropriate directions or orders.
(3) Recommend Interim Relief: The Commission can recommend to the government or authority to provide interim relief to the victim or his/her family.
1. How far is the decision of the Commission binding?
The Commission can only make pass recommendations and not pass binding orders.
2. Can the Commission levy penalties or issue injunctions?
Being a recommendatory body, the Commission is not authorised to issue injunctions (an order requiring a person to perform or refrain from performing an act) or levy penalties.
1. Does the Act provide for a forum to expedite cases relating to oﬂences against children?
Yes, the Act envisages the establishment of a Children’s Court for providing speedy trial of, offences agains children or violation of child rights. It vests the State Government with the discretion
to specify at least one Sessions Court in the State or in every district as a Children’s Court. This should be done in concurrence with the Chief Justice of the High Court.
Further, the Act also requires the State Government to notify a Public Prosecutor or appoint an advocate who has practiced for at least seven years as a Special Public Prosecutor for cases before the Children’s Court.
1. Tell me more about who can ﬁle a complaint with these Commissions?
As a child, you can ﬁle a complaint yourself. Commissions in fact encourage children to ﬁle complaints themselves. Any person or group with direct knowledge or information about a violation of children’s rights can also ﬁle a complaint. These can be family members, neighbours, friends, social workers, NGOs, teachers, a priest, etc.
2. How old do I have to be to make a complaint?
You could be of any age to ﬁle a complaint. There is no restriction on age at all.
3. Can I ﬁle a complaint on my own without my parent or guardian’s permission?
Yes, you can ﬁle a complaint on your own without your parent’s or guardian’s permission. However, if you are considering ﬁling a complaint without consulting your parents or guardian, we would like to encourage you to think carefully about the following points:
It might happen that your family gets upset if you complain without their knowledge. However,remember, you do have the right to complain against anyone if your rights are violated. Talking it over with an adult you trust, might help you understand your situation differently, provide you the support and strength you need and even help you ﬁnd a solution to your problem. If it does not help, then you can decide to ﬁle the complaint on your own. An adult or an organization you trust can also help you ﬁle your complaint, accompany you and correspond with the Commission, etc. However if you do not trust anyone, you can any way ﬁle the complaint on your own.
4. What should I include in my complaint to a Children’s Commission?
Remember, the move -accurate and relevant information you provide in your complaint, the better it is. This will help the Commission to take more effective and timely action.
5. Do I need to pay a fee for making a complaint ?
No. There are no fees for ﬁling complaints with the Commission. Their services are free of charge.
6. When does the Commission accept a complaint? Can I make a complaint at any time and on any day?
The Commission can receive complaints from Mondays to Saturdays during its regular working hours. This is important to note if you are planning to visit personally with your complaint. But if you are sending them a complaint by e-mail or by post, you can do it anytime.
7. Can I complain about anything? Or will the Commission refuse complaints about certain problems?
You can complain about any situation where your rights are violated and your complaint will be accepted. Do read the information in Annexure 1 to understand your rights according to the UNCRC.Here are a few examples of situations when you may want to complain:
8. If someone in my own family is harming me, can I complain about it to the Commission?
Yes, of course. Your parents are responsible for protecting you from danger, and if they are harming you, and even threatening you not to tell anyone, you could complain about this. Also if there is someone else in your family who is harming you — your elder sibling, an aunt or uncle, some relative who stays with you or even the person who ;works as house help, you can complain. Remember, you are important and have a right to be treated Wg-h dignity and no one has the right to hurt you, touch your body in places that makes you uncomfortable, or deny you any of your rights. Even though you may be young and perhaps frightened and confused about these things, you can take steps that will help put an end to any kind of abuse, neglect or exploitation you may be suffering.
9. Can I complain against my school principal or against the priest in my place of worship or even a Minister? They are all very important and powerful people and I am only a child. Will my complaint be taken seriously?
We do understand how you feel. Many children experience this sense of being helpless against adults who use their power and position to harm children, and then frighten them into not telling anyone about it. Remember, the law gives you the power to complain against any person, no matter how important or powerful he/ she. As explained earlier, this person could be your own parent, other a member of your family or your relative. The person could be the principal of your school, a priest, a minister, a policeman or even a judge in a Court.
10. Can I complain about a stranger who is troubling me?
It does not matter who it is – family, teacher, friend or stranger. You can complain to the Commission about any violation of your rights including abuse (physical, mental, emotional or sexual), neglect or exploitation.
11. Can I make a complaint against my school, instead of one particular person in the school?
You can also make a complaint against any institution, such as a school, or a hospital, if the matter concerns the way the institution has violated your rights. Here is an example:
A teacher beat you for some reason. This matter was brought to the notice of the Principal. Surprisingly, she did not address the problem but instead further punished and humiliated you. Your family has brought up this issue with other ofﬁcials in your school, or the Parent Teacher Association, and yet no action has been taken. This is a good case for you to make a complaint against the entire institution.
12. Can I ﬁle a complaint on behalf of another child I know?
You can make a complaint about something that does not concern you directly, but which affects another child or a group of children anywhere in India. In such situations you must try to provide as much useful information about the person or organization that is violating the rights of children, so that the Commission can identify the accused persons. If the complaint does not provide enough details and the Commission cannot gather enough information about it, it is treated as invalid and the case is not taken up.
It is better if you ﬁle ‘omiplaints concerning children in the State that they live in. For example, if you live in Bihar and the child guffering violation also lives there, you should complain to the Bihar State Commission for Protection of Child Rights. If there isn’t a State Commission set up yet in your state, you can ﬁle the complaint with the NCPCR.
Here is an example: You saw a television programme about children in a nearby village being beaten or humiliated by a teacher regularly. None of these children or their parents is conﬁdent of making a complaint in the school. You are horriﬁed about this and want to do something about it. In this situation, you can write to your State Commission about this violation, even though you are not directly involved and do not have all the information required. Give relevant information such as the name of the programme, time of broadcast and the channel, what you felt about the incident and the action you would like taken. The Commission would then be able to follow up on your complaint.
13. Can I complain about something that happened many years ago?
Actually, you can. You can ﬁle a complaint about an incident that happened many years ago. However,remember that the Commission will need proof of the incident in order to continue an inquiry, and if the incident took place a very long time ago, this may not be easy. It could also be difﬁcult to gather enough proof to go to Court to ensure punishment. It is advisable that complaints are ﬁled soon after the violation has taken place so that the Commission can inquire into it easily.
Here is an example: You are now l7 years old, studying in a college in Mumbai. You want to complain against your 3rd standard class teacher of your previous school in Pune. She had made you run around the school ﬁeld 20 times in the hot sun, due to which you had fainted. Now, there are no records about this incident nor do you know any old schoolmates who could conﬁrm the incident. The Commission will ﬁnd it very difﬁcult to take action on the grounds of corporal punishment because there may not be people who can give a written statement to support your complaint, or medical records stating that you had fainted. The other teachers or students in the school at the time may have left the school, so no one can really help you or the Commission to gather proof of the incident and thereforethe complaint will be dropped.
14. Will the person I complain against get to know about my complaint? Won’t he or she be angry and threaten me more?
The law has to be fair to all the people involved in the incident/situation and so, it demands that the Commission send a copy of the complaint to the person against whom the complaint is made, giving them a chance to provide an explanation.
We do understand that you might be soared in this situation because you don’t know how the person will react to your complaint. Maybe you feel that the person is powerful and well—respected in the community, and therefore no one would even believe you. But, the Commission is responsible for your well-being and protection and some ways in which they try to protect you from the negative reactions of the person you are complaining against are to:
• Call the person/organization against whom you have complained to the Commission and discuss the complaint in your absence.
• Warn such a person that if he or she harms you, legal action will be taken to punish him/her for this.
15. How can I ﬁnd out what is happening to my complaint after I have registered it?
You can call or write to the Commission asking what has happened to your complaint. They should give you information about. our complaint and the status, like whether they have sent a copy_i)f to the person or organization against whom you have? complained, whether other a concerned people or ofﬁcials have been called to provide proof, etc.
16. Will the Commission call and question me many times regarding my complaint?
No. The Commission does not need to call youoften. It is supposed to keep your interests as its
main priority, and accordingly, conduct its work. Also, it is not necessary for you to come to the Commission ofﬁce each time. The Commission can decide to communicate with you through the telephone, letter, etc.
17. Is there anywhere I can go besides this Commission if someone violates my rights or commits a crime against me and I need help? Whom can I’ ask?
As we have told you earlier, besides the Commissions. for Protection of Child Rights, the government and other concerned adults have created some services that can support you when you need help. Co’ntact.any of these persons or organizations when you need help: