Chief Justice of India T S Thakur on Monday termed conditions in child protection or observation homes as "sub-human" and said the government machinery needs to be sensitive towards the issue of trafficked and missing children.
He assured judiciary’s full support in ensuring justice for such children but said the responsibility of their rehabilitation rests with the government and use of technology was the only solution to deal with the problem of such a huge magnitude.
"Government machinery needs to be sensitive towards these children. Conditions in protection or observation homes are sub-human. Children are kept in objectionable and unhygienic conditions.
"The process of rehabilitation of these children is entirely with the government," he said during a programme organised here by National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) and Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi-run NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan.
"Judiciary has always had its concern and will continue to do whatever we can do. Our commitment will remain the same despite the difficulties and regardless of the number of judges we have," the CJI said.
"We are conscious of it and are sensitive towards it.
Judiciary will always stand by the cause. Judiciary is just one of the limbs. Magnitude of the problem which we are facing today is so large that judiciary alone cannot do it," he said.
Speaking on the inauguration of ‘National Workshop on Rehabilitation of Missing and Trafficked Children’, the CJI said technology would play a crucial role in repatriation of these children.
"We are not being able to use technology in this regard.
Technology is the only answer which can held in tackling the problem of such a magnitude. We have perhaps never considered the option of technology when a child is missing or rescued," he said while referring to the use of technology in countries like America to match a rescued person with the missing one.
Thakur also said it was "unfortunate’ there was no proper coordination among the agencies concerned regarding such children as the process was "so loose" and "unsatisfactory" which was required to be improved.
He said there were various articles in the Constitution and legislations in favour of rights of children in the country and there was no need to add anything.
"But the ground reality is different. Everyday 22 children goes missing in Delhi and 180 children are missing every day in the country," he said while referring to the figures of the National Crime Records Bureau.
Speaking on the occasion, Satyarthi said there are three aspects to the issue — need to have child-friendly courts, time-bound delivery of justice and punishment to the offenders and time-bound rehabilitation of children.
"We need dedicated judges at the lower courts. We need adequate number of judges for speedy justice. It is not only the feeling of CJI that we need more judges, it is the cries and feelings of millions of children. I refuse to accept that our country is not capable or able to appoint the number of judges required in India for providing speedy justice," he said.
He also said the society was morally accountable to ensure justice to these children.
Justice A R Dave of the Supreme Court said if these trafficked and missing children are not rehabilitated, there were chances that they could turn out to become criminals and if the society is unable to rehabilitate and educate them, "we are failing in our duty".
Delhi High Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Indira Banerjee also addressed the gathering.