Appointment of child commission member quashed

Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, November 13
In a major embarrassment to the government, the Delhi High Court has quashed the appointment of a member of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) saying the Ministry of Child Development ignored obvious discrepancies in the appointee's curriculum vitae (CV) while choosing him for the position.

The government and the commission member in question, Dr Yogesh Dube, will appeal against the order. Ministry officers say, "There were many appealable grounds in the HC order.”

This is the first time that a sitting member of a statutory commission set up under an Act of Parliament (NCPCR was formed under the Protection of Child Rights Act 1995) has been removed by the court.

The court quashed the October 22, 2010, government notification appointing Dube as a member of the NCPCR saying "nowhere did the facts reveal that the member was the one having standing, ability of expertise in the chosen field, as required by the Act". Petitioners in the case, Raj Mangal Prasad of the Association for Development and Bharti Ali of HAQ Centre for Child Rights, contended the ministry arbitrarily invited applications for member vacancies in the NCPCR; didn't follow transparent procedures in selecting members and didn't verify the credentials of the said appointee despite discrepancies.

The petitioners alleged that Dube had concealed his political affiliation with the ruling Congress and had not disclosed that many organisations he claimed to be associated with were actually unregistered.

Though the Additional Solicitor-General defended the ministry asking the court to refrain from commenting on merits of the selection on grounds that the Act was silent on, the court observed Dube was only 31-year-old in 2006 – when he is said to have attained his PhD. "At 31 years, the possibility of Dr Dube having standing, ability or expertise in the elimination of child labour is remote though the ministry says it has carefully considered his application and concluded that he has standing."

Recommendations for vacancies

The court order says out of 165 applications for two vacancies in the NCPCR, 130 came with recommendations (35 from ministers; 18 from political functionaries of which 17 were from the Congress; 33 from MPs, MLAs; seven from CMs, 10 from the NCPCR itself and three from the PMO).