Bombay HC pulls up govt for ‘lack of seriousness’ in filling vacancies

Observing state government’s “complete lack of seriousness” in filling up vacant posts in the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR), the Bombay High Court on Friday directed the principal secretary of the women and child welfare department to file an affidavit giving a timeline on the appointment of chairperson and members of MSCPCR.

The court asked the government to take adequate steps to address concerns raised by the petitioners in their PIL to secure the best interest of children. If government officials are not serious, it will “entail consequences”, the HC said.

MSCPCR is a statutory body set up under the Commission for Protection for Child Rights Act, 2005, to protect, promote and defend child rights in the state. It functions under the women child welfare department.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Makarand S Karnik passed the order while hearing a PIL filed by Nitin Dalvi and Prasad Tulaskar – parents of children studying in private schools – alleging that MSCPCR had been non-functional since May 19, 2020, due to the absence of requisite number of members and therefore, issues faced by their children cannot be redressed.

The HC said, “Your government could not appoint a chairperson in the last so many months?…The Supreme Court has spoken about filling up vacancies of all tribunals, etc. Why don’t you take all this seriously?…You appointed someone who has a heavy portfolio and with no members to assist.”

Rubal Agarwal, Commissioner of Maharashtra Integrated Child Development Service Scheme, has been given additional charge of MSCPCR chairman’s post just two months ago.

Additional Government Pleader Jyoti Chavan, while submitting an affidavit on the steps taken to fill up the posts, said the government is concerned about the rights of children.

The bench observed, “We see a complete lack of seriousness on part of the state for the constitution of commission.” It posted next hearing to April 4.

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