JAMMU, Feb 12: In a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Advocate Shivan Mahajan against child abuse, Division Bench of State High Court comprising Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur has directed Social Welfare and Education Departments to act jointly and prescribe a manner of creating awareness in schools with regard to child abuse.
When the PIL came-up for hearing, Senior Advocate Sunil Sethi appearing for the PIL drew the attention of the court towards the aspect of the child abuse particularly in schools and said, “there is a lack of awareness, particularly amongst the children, as to what is the nature of child abuse and, as a result, some of the children may be suffering in silence”.
He further said, “it is necessary for each of the schools to designate one officer or a teacher, who is sensitive to these issues, who can function as the person where any complaint by any child is received for necessary action to prevent further child abuse”.
After hearing Senior Advocate Sunil Sethi with Advocate Parimoksh Seth for the PIL whereas AAG Ravinder Gupta, Deputy AG Rahul Bharti and Advocate MA Bhat for the respondents, DB asked the counsel for the respondents as to whether there was any policy or scheme for creating such awareness and for appointing such officers/teachers as well as of providing any helpline where complaints could be made by children who are being subjected to child abuse within the school premises.
However, the counsel for the respondents could not give any positive answer on this aspect. Accordingly, the DB said, “if no such scheme or policy is in place, it would be appropriate that the Social Welfare Department and Education Department take joint action on this aspect of the matter and prescribe a manner of creating awareness in schools with regard to child abuse”.
DB further observed, “one of the suggestions given by Senior Advocate Sunil Sethi is for putting up display boards in simple language, informing the children as to what is child abuse and in the languages which are understood by the children in the area concerned”, Accordingly, DB directed Headmasters/Principles of the schools to nominate at least one teacher/official, who is/are sensitive to child issues, to be nominated as the person to whom complaints could be made whenever a child fears that he/she is undergoing child abuse within the school premises.
Division Bench further directed respondents to file compliance report within four weeks.