Delhi Women and Child Development minister Kiran Walia's assurance that all playschools in the city will soon have to be registered with the Delhi government may change how things are run in this unregulated sector.
The statement comes a day after reports of a 3-year-old being raped by her playschool owner's husband came to light.
A large number of playschools in the city operate from swanky buildings and malls as well as squalid and unsafe apartments in residential colonies. There is not a single body that looks into the credentials of the persons setting up a playschool or the safety features in such a school. Those who run these playschools thereby are not responsible for any mishap that happens on their property.
The call for the arrest of the owner of Pathshaala, the playschool where the child was raped, is the first time that on owner has been made liable for what happens on their property.
The Delhi Commission of Protection of Child Rights has used provisions under the newly-enacted The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, to justify the arrest.
As per section 5 of the Act "whoever being on management or on the staff of a jail, remand home, protection home, observation home or other place of custody or care and protection established by or under any law for the time being inforce, commits penetrative sexual assault on a child…shall be punished with rigorous for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may extend to imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine."
According to experts, however, a separate law for registration of playschools is required.
"Plain registration is not enough unless it is combined with a kind of licensing system where only those playschools will be registered who fulfil certain criteria. Just like CBSE has guidelines for affiliation, we need guidelines for registrations. Currently there are playschools running from first-floor apartments, basements and backyards and there are no laws against them," said Indu Kaura, coordinator of the Rajkumari Amrit Kaur Child Study Centre.