It has been one whole month since Telangana's State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) officially went defunct, but no steps have been taken so far.
Until last month, the Telangana unit of the SCPCR had only one member, Achyuta Rao, whose term ended on February 19.
The SCPCR comes under the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), and it is mandated under law for every state to have its own commission.
"Though it exists on paper, there is no functioning commission right now. There should be no gap in its functioning, as it is a legal body and deals with very sensitive cases," Achyuta had earlier told TNM.
Speaking to TNM on Sunday, Achyuta added, "It's a constitutional body, and action has to be taken. Cases of violence and abuse against children are only piling up, and this is a direct and very unfortunate violation of child rights."
The state now has two choices. Extend the present body's term, or appoint new members.
"There has been no steps taken by the Telangana government so far," Achyuta says.
The NCPCR, which was established by a Parliament Act in 2005, mandates that every state should have its own established state unit.
Orders to form the Andhra Pradesh State Commission for Protection of Child Rights were first issued in 2012, which stated that the commission would have six members out of which at least two shall be women.
However, it was only in early 2014 that the body was finally constituted.
After the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, three members shifted to Andhra, while the remaining three were part of the Telangana unit. However, two members soon resigned.
Mamatha Raghuveer, a former member of the SCPCR told TNIE, “We functioned as a six-member team despite the resignation of the chairperson, Sujata Rao, a retired IAS officer. There was fund crunch and we didn’t have any infrastructure. We started looking at cases working with our own laptops. Our salaries were also not paid regularly, but we went on."
Shortly after bifurcation, both commissions functioned from the same office, but were paid by their respective governments.
All was well until November 2014, when Telangana issued a Government Order (GO) for the constitution of its own State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
However, the state did not mention the fate of the present unit, which was still functioning. Achyuta claims that he hasn't been paid a single month's salary since October 2014.
“Since a new GO was issued for the appointment of a new commission for the state, the old commission is dissolved. That is why salaries are not paid thereafter,” M Prashanti, Deputy Secretary of Women and Child Welfare Department had earlier said.
Achyuta moved the High Court and even got an order which directed the Telangana government to continue paying him the salary.
However, even that was of no use, he says.
Telangana also fares poorly where child rights are concerned. Several hundred children have to be rescued from brick kilns and factories every year in and around Hyderabad alone.
Activists have also estimated that there were around 40,000 child labourers in the domestic sector alone.
Students in the state also face another type of child abuse - corporal punishment, with incidents of severe physical violence happening almost on a daily basis.