Supreme Court: States resisting social audits by NCPCR hiding something

In its last year's order, the apex court had said that it was imperative that the process of conducting a social audit must be taken up in right earnestness by the NCPCR as well as by each state commission for the protection of child rights.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that states resisting social audits by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) appear to be “hiding something”.

The observation from a bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta came after the Centre said that despite the apex court’s direction of May 5 last year, several states were not allowing NCPCR to conduct social audits.

“We fail to understand that when there is a direction by this court, how the states are doing this. It appears that they are trying to hide something,” the bench said, adding, “it is unfortunate that state governments are playing hide and seek”.

It asked Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, who was appearing for the Centre, to communicate to the states in this regard saying that, “we are reiterating our direction”.

In its last year’s order, the apex court had said that it was imperative that the process of conducting a social audit must be taken up in right earnestness by the NCPCR as well as by each state commission for the protection of child rights.

“This is perhaps the best possible method by which transparency and accountability in the management and functioning of childcare institutions and other bodies under the JJ (Juvenile Justice) Act and Model Rules can be monitored and supervised,” it had said.

During the hearing on Wednesday, the bench also insisted on using technology and said that it would assist in the process of protecting child rights.

It said that Bihar government, under the aegis of UNICEF, has prepared a good software in this regard and the Centre could look into it so that it could be utilised.

“There is no point in talking about technology in India if we are not using what is available to us,” the court said.

The bench also took exception that several states were not utilising the funds, given by them by the Centre, meant for protection of child rights.

“If the state governments are not utilising the funds given to them by the Union of India then the loss is of these children,” the bench said.

It also directed the states to provide fund utilisation certificates to the Ministry of Women and Child Development and also their respective proposed plans for the year 2018-19.

On May 5 last year, the apex court had passed a slew of directions including setting up a database of children living in orphanages and childcare institutions to ensure their safety and welfare.

It had directed the Centre, state governments and union territories to complete the registration of all child care institutions by the year-end.

The order was delivered on a PIL filed on the basis of a 2007 newspaper report which had alleged that orphanages in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, run by NGOs as well as government institutions, were reportedly involved in systematic sexual abuse of children.

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