SET to hear a PIL on missing children in the country, Justice Madan B Lokur decided to visit the website of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and take a look at their work. He was taken aback by what he saw. For more than three months, the child rights body exists only on paper, with neither chairperson nor any of its six members in saddle.
On Tuesday, when the case came up for hearing in the Supreme Court, a bench of Justices Lokur and Uday U Lalit came down heavily on the government for not making appointments in the NCPCR and asked how did it propose to address the issue when the specialised body formed to cater to the interests of the children was not even functioning.
Asserting that the NCPCR was a statutory body set up with specific purposes, the bench also told Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, who represented the government, that it did not want “political persons” to be appointed in the commission.
“A specialised body is not even in existence for so many months. The only persons handicapped in all this are the children of this country,” it observed. It directed the Ministry of Women and Child Development to make all the appointments as expeditiously as possible. The government has to inform the court about appointments on February 12.
Positions in the NCPCR had fallen vacant after the tenure of its former chairperson Kushal Singh and the other six members ended in October. Incidentally, Singh had a rocky relationship with the NDA government and had alleged that she received “feelers” from the government to step down, but she stayed on till the end of her term.