Letter claims child panel suggestions were ignored

The resignation of retired sessions judge from the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) Jalandhar amidst serious allegations being leveled regarding child protection services in the city has kicked up a hornet’s nest.

Satinder Mohan Singh Mahal, chairman, CWC, who has previously served as sessions judge and headed the district consumer court and permanent Lok Adalat as well, shot off a letter to the Director Social Security terming repeated overlooking of the demands made by the CWC staff for the proper conduct of services in the city.

Reasons cited for his resignation included “Inspection reports of childcare homes situated in the Gandhi Vanita Ashram were not given any importance and the discrepancies/shortcomings were never removed.” Other reasons include the allocation of a 15×15 room for the committee office, where five people operate, leaving no room for visitors or counseling of children or parents, no washroom, no sweeper and peon. Moreover, several expenses are borne by the committee members equally.

The letter states the telephone and internet services of the committee remained disconnected for the past about a year. Nor is any conveyance allowance being paid to members to visit CCIs (Child Care Institutions). It also states the attitude of the officers connected with the functioning of the committee is non-cooperative. “Three CCI in the district had to get their registration canceled for non-compliance of the provision of the JJ Act 2015 and the rules,” the letter says.

The letter further says, “Due to the callous attitude of the officials concerned, certain children had managed to escape which led to the registration of criminal cases also.”

Speaking to The Tribune, Satinder Mohan Singh Mahal, who remained chairman of the CWC from August 2018 until December 2019, tendering his resignation on December 3, “I have had 40 years of service with the judiciary. I do not need a job. The CWC responsibility was taken up by me only to serve the cause of children. However, finding the environment non-conducive, I have decided to resign. We have written to the concerned authorities repeatedly for the provision of proper infrastructure and for the implementation of recommendations made by us, but to no avail.”

District Programme Officer Jalandhar, Amarjit Singh Bhullar said: “We have provided adequate infrastructure to the CWC. A recreation room has been provided nearby where children can rest at the children’s home. We have assured of another room after getting the budget. As far as the inspections reports are concerned, they are not being sent in the proper format. After March there hasn’t been a single escape in the district. After that incident, we installed grills and CCTV cameras outside the ashram. He might have issues due to being elderly, but there is a washroom 40 steps away from the CWC office. Internet was also closed at the JJ board office during the said time.” Director, Social Security, Gurpreet Kaur Sapra, said she hadn’t received any such communication.