IN A rare instance, a social worker in the Juvenile Justice Board of Mumbai district was removed as a member. The Women and Child Development Department terminated the term of the social worker as per a notification issued on Monday. The notification states that Dipak Chattopadhyay will cease to be a member of the board with immediate effect. It also says an inquiry was constituted by the department under the Juvenile Justice Act and it found Chattopadhyay had been found to have “misused his position”.
According to the provisions of the act, a social worker appointed as a member of the board can be terminated after holding an inquiry by the state government. The act has provisions for a member-except the Principal Magistrate-to be removed by the government if found guilty of misuse of power or if the member fails to attend proceedings of the board consecutively for three months without valid reason, or fails to attend less than three-fourths of the sittings in a year or becomes ineligible under Section (4) of the act.
The notification states that Chattopadhyay has been removed under Section 4 (7) (i) for “misuse of power”. Vinita Singhal, secretary of the WCD department, confirmed Chattopadhyay’s removal from his post but refused to elaborate.
“The decision was taken after an inquiry found him guilty as per the act. A plethora of complaints was received against him about his conduct during the board’s proceedings. Complaints were made by various quarters, including social workers and lawyers,” said an official from the WCD department.
Chattopadhyay refused to comment on the termination. A source close to him, however, said he was not issued a show cause notice or informed about the inquiry that could have given him a chance to defend himself.
As per the act, a board constitutes two social workers and the magistrate. Any decision on final disposal of a case requires at least two members to be present. A social worker needs at least seven years’ experience of being actively involved in health, education, or welfare activities pertaining to children or has to be a practicing professional with a degree in child psychology, psychiatry, sociology or law to be appointed as a member.