The Calcutta High Court on Thursday directed the state government to include panchayat pradhans in its efforts to stop child marriage and trafficking.
A Division Bench of Justices Soumen Sen and Harish Tandon said, “For a better implementation of the order, we direct that panchayat pradhan of all panchayats of the respective districts should be sensitised about child rights and the evil of child marriage. This order should also reach all the pradhans and it will be the duty of the District Magistrates that at the panchayat level these issues are addressed and remedial measures are taken with all promptitude.”
West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights (WBCPCR) member Sudeshna Roy said panchayat members were already being involved in anti-trafficking efforts.
“It is indeed a very good order to include panchayats in the entire process. We already included panchayat pradhans and members. Without them, we cannot do this job successfully,” she added.
Roy said the state police and administration remain alert about such cases. “In this lockdown period, we have already received more that 200 complaints of child marriage. In almost every case, we have been able to stop that marriage,” she added.
The Bench also asked district judges to submit reports by June 16 on the implementation of its earlier direction regarding recording of statements under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in cases filed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
“Children are the most precious assets of a country and are regarded as the best human resources who can excel the progress of the country in future. The adolescent children are the most vulnerable class and susceptible to be trafficked either in lieu of a better future or for economic sustainability of the family, which they belong to. It is a common perception that the natal family is the safest heaven of the younger children, yet they are trafficked by the family itself because of the poverty and uncertainty of the social stability,” the Bench noted.
The judges directed the secretary of the Department of Labour to look into reported cases of child labour, and file a report about the steps taken “to prevent child labour and action taken against the perpetrators”. The Bench posted the matter for hearing on June 18, and gave the state administration time till June 16 to file affidavits.
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