To counter increasing crimes against children in the state, a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) has been issued by the government to ensure effective implementation of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC).
According to the 2009-10 economic survey released by the government last week, Maharashtra featured second in the country for crimes against children. The state also ranked third in crimes against women.
The CWC, an integral part of remand homes helping rehabilitation of children in need of care and protection, has the powers to compel police officer to investigate a cognisable or non-cognisable offense. As per the rules, the CWC has powers to summon and order the police to record the statement of the child as a complaint.
There are two CWCs in Mumbai - one at Dongri and the other at Mankhurd. In rest of Maharashtra there are 33 CWCs, with one CWC in each district.
The need for issuing a SOP was felt due to absence of a standard procedure in the 35 CWCs in the state. The SOP simplifies operations of different sections of the Acts and Rules enacted for protection of children.
Members of the CWC have faced practical difficulties in implementation of the SOP.
Santosh Shinde, a child rights activist and a member of CWC at Dongri, said that the biggest hurdle implementation of the SOP was insufficient manpower. Rules say that there should be a follow up of every rescued child after rehabilitation in a shelter home or with a family.
“This has to be done by probation officers appointed. There are no independent probation officers appointed and existing officers are given additional charge. As a result they cannot do justice to this,” said Shinde.
Besides, there are no special budgetary provisions for protection of children.
“The funds come from different departments such as children and women welfare and labour department and are not sufficient,” added Shinde.