Child Welfare Committee


Child Welfare Committee
There shall be a Child Welfare Committee in every district, which shall be constituted by the State Government through a notification in the Official Gazette as per sub-section (1) of section 29 of the Act. The appointment of Chairman and Members in the Child Welfare Committee shall be on the recommendation of Juvenile Justice Selection Committee, set up by the State Government, for the purpose under rule 91.

Composition of the Child Welfare Committee:―
(1) The Committee shall consist of a Chairperson and four other members, of whom at least one shall be a woman.
(2) The Chairperson and members of the Committee shall be appointed on the recommendation of a Juvenile Justice Selection Committee set up by the State Government, for the purpose under rule 91.
(3) The Juvenile Justice Selection Committee, while selecting the Chairperson and Members
of the Committee, shall as far as possible ensure that none of them are
from any adoption agency.
(4) The State Government shall provide for such training and orientation in child psychology, child welfare, child rights, national and international standards for juvenile justice to all members of the Committee as it considers necessary.

Tenure of the Committee:-
(1) The Committee shall have a tenure of three years and the tenure of Chairperson and Members shall be co-terminus with the tenure of the Committee.
(2) The Chairperson and Members of the Committee shall be eligible for appointment for a maximum of two consecutive terms.
(3) Extension of the tenure of members of the Committee shall be on the basis of their performance appraisal by the District Child Protection Unit or the State Government and on the recommendation of the Juvenile Justice Selection Committee.
(4) With a view to ensuring continuity on completion of the tenure of a Committee, the State Government shall constitute a new Committee before the expiry of the term of the existing Committee; where after the existing Committee shall handover all records and information to the newly formed Committee.
(5) The Chairperson and Members may resign at any time by giving one month's notice in writing or may be removed from office as provided in sub-section (4) of section 29 of the Act.
(6) Any casual vacancy in the Committee may be filled by appointment of another person from the panel of names prepared by the Juvenile Justice Selection Committee, and shall hold office for the remaining term of the Committee.





Qualifications for Chairperson and Members of the Committee:-

(1) A person to be selected as a Chairperson or Member of the Committee shall have either of the following qualifications, in addition to a minimum of seven years experience in their respective field:
(i) a person with post graduate degree in social work, psychology, child development, education, sociology, law, criminology and, where such a person is not available, a person with at least a graduate degree in any of the social science disciplines;
(ii) a teacher, doctor or a social worker who has been involved in work concerning children.
(2) The Chairperson or Member of the Committee shall be a person not less than 35 years of age.
(3) No person shall be considered for Selection as a Chairperson or Member of the Committee,
if he,-
(i) has a previous conviction record;
(ii) has been involved in any immoral act or in an act of child abuse or employment of child labour;
(iii) is holding such full-time occupation that may not allow him to give necessary time and attention to the work of the Committee as per the Act and these rules;
(iv) does not fulfill the qualification and experience prescribed in the Act and the rules made thereunder, and in such a case the Juvenile Justice Selection Committee shall after due inquiry and on establishment of such fact, reject his application and recommend the name of the next person from the list of names prepared for filling the vacancies.

Sitting and conveyance allowances:―

The Chairperson and Members of the Committee shall be paid such travel and sitting allowance, as the State Government may determine, but it shall not be less than rupees five hundred per sitting per member.

Sitting of the Committee:―

(1) The Committee shall hold its sittings in the premises of the children’s home or, at a place in proximity to the children’s home or, at a suitable premise in any institution run under the Act.
(2) On receiving information about child or children in need of care and protection, if circumstances are such that the child or children cannot be produced before the Committee, the Committee may move out to reach the child or children and hold its sitting at a place that is convenient for such child or children.
(3) The premises where the Committee holds its sittings shall be child-friendly and shall not look like a court room in any manner whatsoever; for example, the Committee shall not sit on a raised platform and the sitting arrangement shall be uniform and there shall be no witness boxes.
(4) The Committee shall meet a minimum of three days a week, which may be extended by the State Government depending on case and pendency of work.
(5) A minimum of three-fourth attendance of the Chairperson and Members of the Committee is necessary in a year.
(6) The duration of a sitting is dependent on the pendency of work before the Committee.
(7) Every member of the Committee shall attend a minimum of four hours per sitting.

Functions and Powers of the Committee:―

The Committee shall perform the following functions to achieve the objectives of the Act, namely:-
(a) take cognizance of and receive children produced before the Committee;
(b) decide on the matters brought before the Committee;
(c) reach out to such children in need of care and protection who are not in a position to be produced before the Committee, being in difficult circumstances, with support from the District Child Protection Unit or State Child Protection Unit or the State Government;
(d) conduct necessary inquiry on all issues relating to and affecting the safety and well being of the child;
(e) direct the Child Welfare Officers or Probation Officers or non-governmental organisations to conduct social inquiry and submit a report to the Committee;
(f) ensure necessary care and protection, including immediate shelter;
(g) ensure appropriate rehabilitation and restoration, including passing necessary directions to parents or guardians or fit persons or fit institutions in this regard, in addition to follow-up and coordination with District Child Protection Unit or State Adoption Resource Agency and other agencies;
(h) direct the Officer-in-charge of children’s homes to receive children requiring shelter and care;
(i) document and maintain detailed case record along with a case summary of every case dealt by the Committee;
(j) provide a child-friendly environment for children;
(k) recommend ‘fit institutions’ to the State Government for the care and protection of children;
(l) declare ‘fit persons’;
(m)declare a child legally free for adoption;
(n) keep information about and take necessary follow-up action in respect of missing children in their jurisdiction;
(o) maintain liaison with the Board in respect of cases needing care and protection;
(p) visit each institution where children are sent for care and protection or adoption at least once in three months to review the condition of children in institutions, with support of the State Government and suggest necessary action;
(q) monitor associations and agencies within their jurisdiction that deal with children in order to check on the exploitation and abuse of children;
(r) co-ordinate with the Police, Labour Department and other agencies involved in the care and protection of children with the support of District Child Protection Unit or State Child Protection Unit or State Government;
(s) liaison and network with the corporate sector and non-governmental organisations for any of the above, including for social inquiry, restoration and rehabilitation, as and when required; and
(t) maintain a suggestion box to encourage inputs from children and adults alike and take necessary action.

Procedure in relation to Committee:―

(1) The quorum for the meeting shall be three members attending, which may include the Chairperson.
(2) Any decision taken by an individual member, when the Committee is not sitting, shall require ratification by the Committee in its next sitting.
(3) The Committee shall take into consideration the age, developmental stage, physical and mental health, opinion of the child and the recommendation of the child welfare officer or caseworker, prior to disposal of cases.
(4) For final disposal of a case, the order of the Committee shall be signed by at least two members, including the Chairperson.

Production of a Child before the Committee:―

(1) A child in need of care and protection shall be produced before the Committee within twenty-four hours, excluding journey time, by one of the following persons-
(a) any police officer or Special Juvenile Police Unit or a designated police officer;
(b) any public servant;
(c) childline, a registered voluntary organization or by such other voluntary organization or an agency as may be recognized by the State Government;
(d) social worker;
(e) any public spirited citizen; or
(f) by the child himself.
(2) In case of a child under two years of age, who is medically unfit, the person or the organization shall send a written report along with the photograph of the child to the Committee within twenty-four hours and produce the child before the Committee as soon as the child is medically fit along with a medical certificate to that effect.
(3) The Committee can suo motu take cognizance of cases brought to their notice and reach out to a child in need of care and protection where necessary and the District or the State Child Protection Unit or the State Government shall provide necessary support and assistance to the Committee for carrying out such functions.
(4) In case the Committee is not sitting, the child may be produced before the single member of the Committee as per the provisions laid down under the sub-section (2) of section 30 of the Act for being placed in safe custody of parent or guardian or fit person or fit institutions, as the case may be, till such time that the child can be produced before the Committee.
(5) In case the single member is also not accessible, or that the hours are odd, the child shall be taken by an non-governmental organisation or Childline or Police to an appropriate institution for children registered under the Act with all the necessary documents, and placed in such institution till the time of production before the Committee.
(6) The concerned institution shall inform the Chairperson or a member of the Committee about such child and produce the child before the Committee within twenty four hours and in such cases, it may not be necessary for the person who brings a child in need of care and protection to an institution to be present at the time of production of the child before the Committee.
(7) Whoever produces a child before the Committee shall submit a report on the circumstances under which the child came to their notice and efforts made by them on informing the police and the missing persons squad and in cases where a recognized voluntary organization or any police personnel produce a child before the Committee, they shall also submit a report on the efforts made by them for tracing the family of the child.
(8) Any general medical or gynecological examination of children shall not be a pre-requisite for production of the child before the Committee or admission in an institution.
(9) The Committee shall facilitate the filing of a police complaint and First Information Report in cases of missing children as well as matters of violence, exploitation and abuse of children and arrange for required legal aid through the Legal Officer in the District Child Protection Unit or District or State Legal Aid Services Authority or voluntary organisations.
(10) Each Committee shall send quarterly information about children in need of care and protection received by them to the District or State Child Protection Unit or State Government.
(11) Children shall be provided a child-friendly environment during the proceedings of the Committee.
(12) The Committee shall have an empanelled list of lawyers, social workers and mental health expert who may assist the Committee in dealing with cases of abused children and who may also
interface with the Public Prosecutor or Assistant Public Prosecutor to facilitate legal services to the abused children, when the cases relating to such children are taken up in regular criminal courts.
(13) Every possible effort shall be made to trace the family with support from the District Child Protection Unit, and assistance of recognized voluntary organizations, childline or police may also be taken.
(14) The Committee shall send the child to the designated place of safety, with age and gender appropriate facilities, pending inquiry and in such eventuality, the District Child Protection Unit or State Child Protection Unit or State Government shall provide transport or make necessary budgetary allocations for such expenses based on the actual fare.
(15) The child may be escorted by the police officer or representative of the voluntary organization or by any other arrangement as considered appropriate by the Committee with support from the District Child Protection Unit and in case of a girl child, a female escort shall accompany the child.
(16) A list of all recognized child care institutions along with their capacity and appropriate facilities as prescribed under section 34 of the Act, a list of all child related resource services and a list of contact details of all Child Welfare Committees across the country shall be provided to the Committee by the District Child Protection Unit or State Government.
(17) The Committee may, while making an order in Form VIII placing a child under the care of a parent, guardian or fit person pending inquiry or at the time of restoration, as the case may be, direct such parent, guardian or fit person to enter into an undertaking in Form IX.
(18) Whenever the Committee orders a child to be kept in an institution, it shall forward to the Officer-in-charge of such institution a copy of the order of short term placement pending inquiry, in Form X with particulars of the home and parents or guardian and previous record.
(19) Whenever the Committee orders a child to be kept in a fit institution as part of restoration under clause (f) of sub- section (3) of section 39 of the Act, it shall forward a copy of its order of restoration in Form XI to the Officer-in-charge of such institution.
(20) The child shall be placed in an institution closest to where his parents or guardians belong as far as possible, unless the child has been subjected to abuse or exploitation by parents or guardians.

Procedure for inquiry:―

(1) When a child is brought before the Committee, the Committee shall assign the case to a social worker or caseworker or child welfare officer or
Officer-in-charge as the case may be, of the institution or any recognized agency for conducting the inquiry through an order in Form-XII.
(2) The Committee shall direct the concerned person or organization about the details or particulars to be enquired into for developing an individual care plan and suitable rehabilitation.
(3) All inquiries conducted by a social worker or caseworker or child welfare officer or Officer in-charge of the institution or any recognized agency shall be as per Form-XIII and must provide an assessment of the family situation of the child in detail, and explain in writing whether it will be in the best interest of the child to restore him to his family.
(4) The inquiry must be completed within four months or within such shorter period as may be fixed by the Committee:
Provided that the Committee may, in the best interest of the child and for the reasons to be recorded in writing, extend the said period under special circumstances.
(5) After completion of the inquiry, if, the child is under orders to continue in the children's home, the Committee shall direct the Officer-in-charge of the home to submit quarterly progress report of such child and produce the child before the Committee for an annual review of the progress.Some

Limitations to the powers of the CWC include:-

⦁ CWC cannot issue orders without a quorum of at least three members including Chairperson
⦁ CWC does not have the jurisdiction to deal with children in conflict with law.
⦁ CWC does not have the authority to declare ‘fit institutions’. It can only recommend ‘fit institutions’ to the State Government.
⦁ CWCs can only declare a child legally free for adoption. The subsequent legal process of adoption is the purview of the judiciary. The CWC does not have the power to directly place children in adoption.
⦁ In custodial conflict cases, CWCs cannot pass orders for the child’s custody, the powers of which are vested with the judiciary. CWCs can only provide for the care and protection of the child in such matters.

Termination or Suspension-

In the event of any complaint against a Chairman or Member of the Committee, the Juvenile Justice Selection Committee Constituted under Rule 91 of 2007 shall hold necessary inquiry and recommend termination of appointment of such member to the State Government, if required.