Parents involved in school fee and corporal punishment disputes said that the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights was delaying hearings. They said that the commission had last heard cases on January 20.
The commission is an appellate body set up to address complaints on violations of child rights and the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009. But some of the complainants said that the commission had told them that the hearings have not been held as the chairperson only holds additional charge and the proceedings cannot be held without the official’s presence.
“We had approached the commission because our children are facing discrimination in school after we protested against fee hike. The last hearing took place on December 2. We haven’t heard back since,” said Prasad Tulaskar, a parent, adding, “We call the commission regularly but we are told that the chairperson is unavailable for hearings and the orders are pending with the commission’s secretary.
Refuting the parents’ claims, commission member secretary, AN Tripathi said, “Despite shortage of a staff-typist and an administrative officer, operations are unaffected. We haven’t held hearings because in most cases, we are waiting for reports or cases are resolved. And we do not have the power to intervene in fee hike issues.”
Tripathi added that the commission issued 57 orders in the past few days. “In fact, the number of pending cases are lowest among all commissions in the country,” he said. The commission has also recently launched a mobile application which, Tripathi said, had been helping resolve the complaints faster.
Last year in May, the Bombay high court asked the commission to fill up vacant posts after a public interest litigation filed by the Forum For Fairness in Education, claiming that the posts of chairperson and members were vacant since 2011 and that the secretary has been signing undated orders in violation of rules.