Telangana's State Commission for Protection of Child Rights is in a dismal state – it now has an official commission which only exists on paper, and an old unit which is actually functioning but does not have government-recognition.
The current situation arose on account of a lack of planning and coordination when Andhra Pradesh and Telangana decided to share resources temporarily after bifurcation.
When Telangana carved out of Andhra Pradesh in June last year, it was decided that the Andhra Pradesh State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (APSCPCR) would remain intact for a few months, and a Telangana 'unit' would be formed to deal with cases from Telangana.
Subsequently, both commissions functioned from the same office, shared an attender, but were paid by their respective governments.
All was well until November, 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 is still functioning. There is a courtroom where members who haven’t quit yet, hear and clear case after case, but the only person receiving the salary on time happens to be the lone attender, whom the Andhra Pradesh government pays.
The existing members of the unit, have now approached the high court.
The Telangana government however, has a simple explanation for why the salaries have not been paid.
"Since a new GO was issued for appointment of new commission for the state, the old commission is dissolved. That is why salaries are not paid thereafter,” deputy secretary of Women and Child Welfare Department M Prashanti told The New Indian Express.
However, the official also told the newspaper that the unit had not officially been dissolved, while the formation of the official commission has been in the process for several months now.
Child abuse in the two states
Telangana and Andhra have not fared very well when it comes to dealing with child harassment and abuse.
In June this year, the state commission found that there were more than 1,000 cases of both sexual, physical assault against children and other violations of child rights from both the states every month, indicating a 48 percent increase every year.
Another worrying concern is that more than 90 percent of such cases were not being reported either to the commission or to the police.
Besides all this, there is also a concern about child labour in the state's capital, something which came to light when the Hyderabad Police rescued at least 200 children this year, some as young as 6-years-old, who were employed as workers at bangles and footwear manufacturing units.
Then there was the case of Pratyusha, a 19-year-old girl rescued from her stepmother Shyamala and father Ramesh on July 8, after being tortured for several months. She had over a 100 injuries including cuts, burns and bruises all over her body.
The scenario is not exclusive to Hyderabad alone. Many cases of child harassment have come in from schools in other parts of the state, where students are subjected to severe punishment by the teachers.
In April this year, NDTV uncovered how babies, a few months old, were being sold in Nalgonda for a few thousand rupees.
While this is being sorted out, member of the Telangana unit of the child rights commission Achyuta Rao addressed a press conference in Hyderabad on Sunday and appealed to the government to put an end to this impasse.
"Either improve the condition of the present Commission or constitute a new one. This is not helping children in anyway. We can't just stop functioning unless we receive a signed order from the government," he says.
He also told The News Minute that the commission had given representations to various officials including the Chief Minister but nothing had been done, which is why he petitioned the High Court.