Those rescued from child labour, trafficking may not be asked for multiple statements

The Times of India | Ambika Pandit | May 28, 2019

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has its way, then in the months ahead, those rescued from child labour and trafficking situations will not have to record their statements before different authorities in keeping with different laws during investigation and rehabilitation.

A draft of the standard operating procedure by the NCPCR recommends that the statement recorded before the child welfare committee (CWC) should be considered as recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The draft is upon the commission’s website for public objections and suggestions.

This single statement should be used by the police during the investigation and the labour department as part of the process for recovery of back wages and compensation for child labour and bonded labour, the draft says.

NCPCR chief Priyank Kanoongo told TOI that to vest the CWC with the power of a metropolitan magistrate in keeping with the Juvenile Justice Act and the CrPC will require state governments to bring notifications to implement the same. “There is a meeting on June 12 in Delhi where representatives of departments of women and child development, mining, labour and state child rights commissions will discuss rescue and rehabilitation issues. The draft SOP will also be discussed to build consensus,” Kanoongo said.
As soon as a rescued child is produced before the CWC, her statement has to be recorded. “The Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, empowers the CWC to function as a metropolitan magistrate or as the case may be, a judicial magistrate first class. Accordingly, the CWC shall have the powers conferred by the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973,” the draft SOP says. This implies that the child’s statement before the CWC shall be considered as recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC.

The draft SOP says after recording the child’s statement, if any violation is found by the CWC under the Child Labour Act, 1986, and the Bonded Labour Act, 1976, then the CWC should give a direction to the police for registration of FIR.

It further says that on receiving the order from the CWC, the police will register an FIR immediately on the basis of the child’s statement given to the CWC. A copy of the FIR shall be sent to the district magistrate and the CWC within 24 hours.

The SOP recommends that on receiving directions from the CWC, the labour department shall ascertain the wages of the child based on the statement made to the CWC within seven days of the child’s rescue. Once the amount is ascertained by the labour department, it shall be recovered from the offender within 10 days.

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