Saturday, 22 March 2014

Delhi Govt. Conferred the Power of Judicial Magistrate on ADMs for trial the cases of Bonded Labour

Bonded Labour is most widely used method to enslave people. People are affected by it badly yet serious thought has not been given by the law implementing agencies, though stringent provisions under India legal system are available. Working in Delhi for rights of the children, AFD-Pratidhi has been doing advocacy for effective implementation of the provisions of legislations pertaining to children.

The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 is based on article 23 of Indian constitution, which aims at prohibiting the forced labour. The section-21 of the said Act states:
Offences to be tried by Executive Magistrates.-
1.      The State Government may confer, on an Executive Magistrate, the powers of a Judicial Magistrate of the first class or of the second class for the trial of offences under this Act; and, on such conferment of powers, the Executive Magistrate, on whom the powers are so conferred, shall be deemed, for the purposes of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974 ), to be a Judicial Magistrate of the first class, or of the second class, as the case may be.

2.      An offence under this Act may be tried summarily by a Magistrate.

AFD- Pratidhi took up this issue in 2009 and did following interventions:

An RTI was filed on 10.11.2009 with Divisional Commissioner Office, Delhi to get information on compliance of section- 21, of The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 (Link to RTI Application).The RTI was transferred to the District offices and Labour Department. Both the departments were passing the buck on each other and did not provide the relevant information. Therefore, first appeal was filed with the First Appellate Authority (FAA) i.e. Divisional Commissioner (D.C.), Delhi on 31.12.2009, which was further transferred to the 9 District Offices of the Dy. Commissioners (Revenue). District FAAs instructed to PIOs to provide the sought information. Thereafter we started getting replies from the Districts in which we found that the power of Judicial Magistrate was not conferred on any of the Executive Magistrate by the Govt. We followed this issue again by filling another RTI with L.G. Office to know what action has been taken to comply with section- 21, of The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976. 


A letter was sent to the Office of the Chief Secretary, Delhi on 23.05.2011 requesting him to issue a notification conferring power of Judicial Magistrate on an Executive Magistrate as per Section 21 of The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976. (link to the letter Chief Secretary, Delhi) 

On June 28, 2011, The Hindu took up the issue and did a story namely “Apathy shrouds bonded labour cases”. AFD- Pratidhi’s intervention exerted the pressure on the Govt. to issue the notification in compliance with section- 21 of The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976. On the basis of the story done by Hindu , National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) took suo-moto cognizance and issued a notice to Delhi Govt. on 29.06.2011 “to submit the requisite information/report within 4 weeks from the date of receipt of this notice”. (link ot NHRC notice)

On 03.02.2012, Govt. of NCT of Delhi issued notification in compliance with the notice of NHRC and Section 21 of The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 and conferred the powers of Judicial Magistrates of first class on Additional District Magistrates. Copy of the notification was received under RTI. 

The issue again taken up with media and The Hindu did another story namely “NGO alleges no prosecution in bonded labour cases in the country for the past 35 years” on 18.08.2012 to push the Govt. to implement the notification, which was still on paper. Not a single trial was done in compliance with said notification on Section- 21 of The Bonded labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976.

Issuing a notification by the Govt. is a step ahead in the battle against slavery. The implementation of notification is another important issue which is yet to be resolved. We are making our continuous efforts in this direction.  

Sunday, 2 March 2014

AFD-Pratidhi in Satyamev Jayete

Pratidhi is a collaborative society of Delhi Police and Association for Development (AFD) which came into existence in 1996. The main objective of the organization is welfare and rehabilitation of survivors of crime mainly children survivors of sexual abuse. It is perhaps the first agency of its kind in the country that takes a holistic approach and caters to the long felt requirement of providing welfare services.

With more than 18 years of work experience Pratidhi has worked with more than 5000 children and women survivors who were referred  for social work intervention by Police, NGO’s and community. In order to bring long lasting impact in the society and create a favourable environment for survivors of sexual abuse, the organization engages with stakeholders in its advocacy campaign on the following issues:

A. Complete ban on PV Test (which is done in the cases of medical examination of rape survivors), generally known as two finger test.

B. Establish a single window Rape Crisis Centres.

C. Sensitive handling of survivors of sexual assault at the level of Police Station, Hospitals and Courts.

We are glad to inform you that the above issues were taken up by Amir Khan in his programme Satyamev Jayete on 02.03.2014. Please find a link of the same.

Part in which AFD-Pratidhi's is on the show:

Full episode:

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Campaign for a Children’s Manifesto

Protection is the right of every child. It is the collective responsibility of the family, the community and the State to create an environment that is protective towards children and is sensitive to their physical, mental and emotional needs. It is unfortunate, thus, that in the year 2012, the total number of missing children in Delhi was around 4086. The number of cases involving child abuse and kidnapping too are high and have registered an increase over the past year.
Recognizing this, AFD-Pratidhi empowered a group of adolescent girls in the Trilokpuri community of East Delhi who have been acting as agents of change and have been involved in campaigning for the rights of children and specifically raising awareness on child protection issues such as banning the PV test, kidnapping, child labor, trafficking, misbehavior by officials with the victims of sexual assault and changing the perception of the community towards the victims. As a result of their tireless campaigning, other members of the community including women, parents and youngsters have also begun lending active support to child protection issues. AFD-Pratidhi helps them gain a clearer understanding of child protection issues and provides strategic support to this group in order to increase their participation in local governance.
In the run up to the assembly elections in Delhi, a coordinated signature campaign was organized by The Delhi Child Rights Group across the city and approximately 40000 signatures were collected in an attempt to bring child protection issues in the manifestoes of political parties. As a member of this group, AFD-Pratidhi was responsible for the campaign in East Delhi. The Trilokpuri community contributed approximately 1000 signatures to this campaign. Following up on this, another campaign, Kahi Hum Bhul Na Jaye! was organized in order to discuss issues related to child protection and to mobilize the community to seek their local legislative candidates’ support for a Children’s Manifesto.

The campaign started in the first week of November, 2013 and continued till 2nd December 2013. Street plays were organized, meetings were conducted in various blocks of the community, door-to-door visits were made to create awareness and members of the community were asked to take a commitment from their candidates to actively address child protection issues. The campaign lasted around 25 days and volunteers interacted directly and indirectly with hundreds of members of the community.
While community members were sensitive to the issues related to child protection, the impending elections brought several other issues of the community into focus. Child protection, thus, featured low in the priority of community members as far as expectations from their electoral candidates went. It was noticed, however, that several members of the community actively distributed copies of children’s manifestos to their neighbors and candidates of their own accord. Activities such as these reinforce our belief that rather than act as a representative of the community, we are at our most helpful when we sensitize the community and empower them to take responsibility in solving their own problems. It was this belief that led us to encourage the community itself to petition their candidates rather than merely speak to the candidates on their behalf and we hope this belief will be vindicated in time when the community will no longer need assistance from us to deal with child protection issues.  

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Deptt. of Health, Govt. of Delhi issued guidelines for the hospitals on POCSO Act, 2012

(RTI Intervention Yields Positive Result)

On 10/7/2013 a Child Sexual Abuse case was referred to Pratidhi. The child was taken to LBS hospital for medical examination. The doctor told the victim and their family members that to conduct medical examination, doctor inserts their hand in the vagina and some time they have to cut the vagina also.  As a result the victim was horrified and discouraged by the doctors to undertake gynecological medical examination. The investigating Officer reported this matter in writing to Child Welfare Committee, Dilshad Garden.

Similarly in one more case Doctor blamed victim’s family for what had happened with the child victim and dissuaded and refused to conduct gynecological medical examination. In yet another case child was beaten up by hospital staff in IHBAS for her abnormal behavior and not taking medicine.  
Unnecessary delay in conducting medical examination of child victims of sexual abuse and insensitive handling by doctors and medical staffs is routine in almost all Delhi Govt. Hospitals with few exceptions.

Pratidhi has been working with child sexual abuse victims from last 16 years in Delhi. During last eight months, Pratidhi worked extensively with more than 125 sexual abuse cases. Hence, Pratidhi decided to intervene on this issue.  Following strategy was taken in the matter:
        I.            A Workshop for Doctors in collaboration with Department of Women and Child Development, Govt. of Delhi was organized on the role of doctors/hospitals under the provisions of POCSO Act and Rules, 2012 A letter was sent to Mr. A.K. Walia, Minister of Health and Family Welfare with a request that Department of Health should issue a detailed SOP/ Circular for medical examination of child sexual abuse victim as per the provisions of POCSO Act, 2012 .

A RTI application was filed with Directorate of Health services on 19/6/2013 to know whether Department has issued detailed circular/SOP based on the provisions of POCSO Act, 2012.

A misleading reply was given by PIO. Hence, 1st appeal was filed on 26/8/2013.

Hearing on RTI matter was held on 11/9/2013. The Government officials itself agreed on the point that the Department had not taken any initiative in the matter and guidelines should be issued for hospitals/ doctors 

      V.            Disposal order of appeal received on 23/9/2013 with the information that the circular regarding guideline for hospital which includes provisions of POCSO Act has already been uploaded on the Delhi Govt. website for public display”.( )

The whole process shows how RTI application made the Government recognize the gravity of matter and issue circular to all the government hospitals of state. The impact of RTI goes beyond just to provide information. It can lead to bring improvement in implementation of existing schemes and acts.  Pratidhi,  hope that other Child Right Organizations will also take up similar and more matters by adopting RTI as a tool for Child Protection/ Rights, which can help in dealing the issues of children on broader canvas. 

Monday, 28 October 2013

Demand to include Child Protection issues in political parties manifesto

Govt. does not give any priority to implementation of ICPS, JJ Act or The POCSO Act. The lethargy and inaction of the Govt. machinery is a major hindrance in effective implementation of above laws and schemes meant for children. 
In order to deal with this state of affairs more than 60 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and activists have come together as Delhi Child Rights Group (DCRG) to run community based campaign all over Delhi. 
As a first step a press conference cum public meeting was organized on 27th April,2013 to highlight all aspects of systematic failures experienced by child rights  organizations while dealing with cases of sexual violence against children. After that a memorandum of demand was prepared which highlighted all gaps in the system and list of demands of corrective measures( memorandum attached). It was decided to go to people in different settlements and colonies of Delhi, raise awareness on the issue and seek support of people for the memorandum.  

This is election time in many States including Delhi. Therefore, it was decided by the group that we will have a meeting with all the major political parties in Delhi and submit the memorandum of demand ( with 40000 signatures.

In this regard the core group members first met Arvind Kejariwal the convener of AAP on 14.10.2013. He promised to work with DCRG if elected to power and has assured to give importance to Child Protection issues in his party’s manifesto. Yogendra Yadav who is working on the Party’s manifesto has been given our memorandum along with signatures and factsheet.
Further we met Mr. Vijay Sharma, Organizing General Secretary, BJP Delhi on 15.10.2013 and shared our concern on Child Protection issues and submitted the memorandum along with signatures and factsheet.  He assured us that his party will work on this issue. We have also sent the copy of memorandum to Mr. Harsh Vardhan, who is preparing the party’s manifesto and he is the Delhi Chief Ministerial candidate of BJP.

Lastly the core group went to meet Smt. Shiela Dikshit, CM, Delhi on 22.10.2013 at 9.00 a.m., as per the scheduled date and time given by the CM office. While she was going inside her office she asked the core group to hand over the copy of their demands, but she did not give any assurance whether her party will include the demands in the party’s manifesto.  

Now Delhi Child Right Group is going submit memorandum of demand along with 40000 signatures to followings:
State level.
·        Lieutenant Governor
·        Minister WCD
·        Police commissioner
·        DCPCR

National Level.
·         Prime Minister
·         Home minister
·         Minister WCD
·         NCPCR

Delhi Child Right Group also planning to organize Round table meeting/ Dialogue with leaders of Political Parties in third week of November 2013.

Please see the media stories on the campaign. If any of you interested, we can send you the memorandum, and other documents.