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CM wants panel to take up complaints against placement agencies,HC told

Alarmed at the mushrooming of placement agencies for domestic helps in the Capital,Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has directed Delhi’s Home Secretary to set up a permanent committee to hear complaints by abused children...

Written by Krishnadas Rajagopal | New Delhi |
February 5, 2009 12:27:27 am

Alarmed at the mushrooming of placement agencies for domestic helps in the Capital,Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has directed Delhi’s Home Secretary to set up a permanent committee to hear complaints by abused children and women domestic workers against placement agencies. 

The decision was taken at a high-profile meeting,called and presided over by Dikshit on January 31. The Private Secretary to the CM,Secretaries of Labour,Home,Social Welfare departments,and representatives from the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) attended the meeting.

The development came to light in written submissions made by DCW counsel Aparna Bhatt on Wednesday before a High Court division bench of Chief Justice A P Shah. 

“The permanent body will hear grievances of domestic workers against placement agencies,and its members will be drawn from the Delhi State Commission for Protection of Child Rights,” DCW chairperson Barkha Singh told Newsline.

Bhatt said in her written submissions that the chief minister had directed the Home Secretary to coordinate the process of setting up this permanent committee. In the January 31 meeting,DCW members narrated the operation that rescued 33 children and young women from a placement agency at Shakur Basti on January 13.

“There were small rooms where women and children were residing — there were no mattresses or sleeping arrangement,” Bhatt recounted the raid in court today. “The children seemed very young; they said they were brought in through agents for domestic work. Some of them said they were promised education.”

A special Crime Branch team is currently probing the case on DCW’s allegations,including that the girls were subjected to sexual abuse.

Bhatt was representing DCW in a PIL alleging that the city’s placement agencies were neck-deep in illegal trafficking of children and women.

‘CM concerned’
Giving details of the meeting chaired by the chief minister,Bhatt said Dikshit called mushrooming of placement agencies in every nook and cranny of the Capital a “grave situation”. Dikshit,Bhatt said,directed the Law Secretary to “look into the possibility of stretching the existing law (Shops and Establishment Act,2008) or enact a new legislation to ensure that agencies are regulated”.

Under the Act,the government had made it mandatory for agencies to register themselves. “The chief minister was concerned that whenever tight regulations are brought into Delhi,the placement agencies move to the NCR. It was felt that coordination is important with other state governments.”

To this,Chief Justice Shah said,“Inter-state cooperation to control migrant labour is still lagging — Delhi is basically a receiving state.”

Shah observed that a permanent solution to rescue migrant children from placement agencies would be to accommodate and provide them education in mainstream schools.

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