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No child expert on welfare panel

The Govt tried to fast-track appointment of four members to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights but couldn’t beat the election code of conduct. The poll panel will now have to approve the appointments, reports Chetan Chauhan.

india Updated: Mar 09, 2009 00:49 IST
Chetan Chauhan

The government tried to fast-track appointment of four members to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights but couldn’t beat the election code of conduct. The poll panel will now have to approve the appointments.

Moreover, the women & child ministry’s choice of candidates — not one of them is a child psychologist — hasn’t gone down well with child experts.

Last Monday, the ministry, which for two years failed to appoint new members, got four names approved from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and wanted them notified the same day. But, by the time the file reached Social Welfare Secretary K.M. Acharya, holding the additional charge that day, the elections had been called and the poll code was in place. “He (Acharya) asked the ministry to seek Election Commission’s approval,” a senior official, who didn’t wish to be identified, said. The poll panel is yet to approve the appointments.

Among the nominees are two lawyers — Anil Siwach and Charu Ali Khanna. Child right activists are upset as the commission will now have four lawyers but not one child psychologist. The present members, Sandhaya Bajaj and Deepa Dixit, too, are lawyers. “It is a commission for children not for the lawyers. There is not even a single member who is an expert on child psychology,” a child right activist, who didn’t wish to be named, said.

A financial consultant from Andhra Pradesh, Shreedhar Murty, who described himself as a social worker in the resume sent to the ministry, is the third nominee.

The fourth appointee, Seema Sadiq, like chairperson Sinha, is from civil society and runs an NGO.

“The government has the right to make appointments. But, we want to know the basis for such appointments,” said Raaj Mangal Prasad of NGO Pratidhi. Through an RTI application sent out six months ago, Prasad sought file notings on the appointments, but is awaiting response.

The ministry also decided to appoint J. Malaji, a district-level Congress worker from Karnataka, as member, National Commission for Women, in place of Nirmala Venkatesh. The appointment, too, has got stuck in the conduct code.