Cal HC | Alarming rise of child marriages during lockdown has given a strong impression that they may be in garb of child trafficking; Police to investigate

Calcutta High Court: A Division Bench of Harsh Tandon and Soumen Sen, JJ., addressed the matter in regard to the child marriages in the garb of child trafficking and called for detailed status reports for the same.

Additional Chief Secretary, Home Affairs Department and Home Secretary district-wise details of the cases in relation to violation of child rights of all forms till 15th June, 2020 has been disclosed.

The above-mentioned report details out the nature of the violation of child rights and the steps taken by the police authorities in connection with such cases.

Alarming rise of child marriages during the lockdown has given a strong impression that these child marriages may be in the garb of child trafficking.

In view of the above Court directed Superintendent of Police of every district to investigate into the cases regarding child marriage and to find out if child marriages are for economic consideration or under the garb of child trafficking.

With regard to North-24 Parganas report, Court directed the Home Secretary to file a report disclosing such “other violation of child rights” and the steps taken by the police against the violators.

Further the Court also directed the Superintendent of Police of all the districts to ensure that the victims are produced immediately and not later than 48 hours before the Magistrates for recording of statement under Section 164 of the CrPC.

Most of the Juvenile Justice Boards have been functioning under tremendous stress and infrastructure is extremely inadequate.

Court noted the following deficiencies:

  1. No chamber for the Principal Magistrate and other members of the committee,
  2. Lack of office space,
  3. No separate room for vulnerable child witnesses,
  4. No separate entrance for the C.C.L. and vulnerable witnesses,
  5. No official vehicle is assigned to the Principal Magistrate,
  6. Lack of broad-band connection and inconsistent bandwidth,
  7. Lack of hardware and software infrastructure required for audio- video linkage,
  8. Inadequate and/or no support staff like bench clerk, lower division clerk-cum-typist, counsellor etc.,
  9. No separate provision of wash-room for female staff/members/lady officers,
  10. No separate room for counselling for the C.C.L.s and for sitting of social worker members,
  11. Lack of maintenance of public toilets and wash-room of Principal Magistrates

Advocate General assured the Court that he would immediately take the the above issues with the Home Secretary and would apprise the steps taken to remove such deficiencies.

Report filed by the Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare shows that 75 children of the migratory workers have been found to be Covid-19 positive and subsequently they were referred to designated COVID hospitals, samples were collected from asymptomatic children of migratory workers and 43 of such samples were reported as positive.

Considering the safety of the children bench would like to know if any random test was carried out of the children of the migratory workers and if so, disclose the result of such random test with specific comment as to whether anyone of them tested positive, save and except the particulars already disclosed.

Report to be filed with regard to investigation in child trafficking case

Court has also asked the Advocate General to file a report with regard to a newspaper report wherein it appeared that one female minor girl had been recovered by Maharashtra Police.

Court adjourned the matter till 2nd July, 2020. [Contagion of COVID-19 Virus in Children, In Re., 2020 SCC OnLine Cal 1066   , decided on 25-06-2020]

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