The CWC is an autonomous body declared as the competent authority to deal with child in need of care and protection. It is mandatory to form a CWC in every district under section 29 (1) of the JJ (C&P) Act, 2015. Composition of the Committee: CWC constitutes of a Chairperson and four other members, one of whom at least should be a woman and another, an expert on matters concerning children. Selection of the Committee: The appointment of the Committee is done by the State Government by notifying in the official gazette. It is also imperative that the Chairperson and the members are trained and oriented on all child related issues, welfare, rights and all the national and international standards pertaining to juvenile justice. Tenure of the Committee: The Committee members shall be appointed for a period not more than three years.
A) Role of CWC pertaining to orphan/abandoned children
- An orphan/ abandoned child received either by a CCI or SAA shall be produced before the CWC within 24 hours along with a report as per the format given in Form 17 of Model Rules 2016. A copy of the report shall be submitted to the local police station within 24 hours.
- If a child is under treatment, only documents related to the child shall be produced before The CWC and it may visit the ailing child.
- The CWC, pending inquiry, shall issue an order in Form 18 of JJ Model Rules 2016 for a short term placement or interim case of the child as per provisions of section 37(c )of the JJ Act 2015.
- The CWC, may direct the DCPU to advertise the particulars and photograph of an orphan/ abandoned child in a national newspaper within 3 working days from the time of receiving and ensure entry of date in the designated portal in its missing or found column.
- In case the biological parents or legal guardian cannot be traces the DCPU shall submit a report to the CWC within 30 days.
- The CWC shall seek a report from the CCI or SAA immediately on completion of 30 days regarding any information revealed by the child during his short term placement.
- The CWC shall use the designated portal to ascertain whether the orphan/abandoned child is a missing child.
- The CWC shall issue order signed by at least 3 members of the CWC declaring the orphan / abandoned as legally free for adoption in the format at Form 25 of JJ Model Rules 2016 within a period of two months for a child up to 2 years and four months for a child above 2 years.
- A child of parents with mental disability shall be declared legally free for adoption on the basis of a certificate reflecting the parents mental disability by a medical bond constituted by the Central Govt./ State Govt.
- In case of siblings or twins , the CWC, the CWC shall specify their status as siblings or twins and declare the children as legally free in a simple order
B) Role of CWC pertaining to orphan/abandoned children
- A parent or guardian wishing to surrender a child under section 35(1) of the ACT shall apply to the CWC in the Form 23 of JJ, Model Rules 2016.
- The CWC shall facilitate the parents or guardians who are unable to give an application, due to illiteracy or any other reason, through the legal aid and counsel provided by the legal services authority.
- The deed of surrender shall be executed as per schedule V of Adoption Regulations 2017.
- If the surrendering parent is an unmarried mother, the Deed of Surrender may be executed in the presence of preferably any single female member of the Child Welfare Committee.
- If a child born to a married couple is to be surrendered, both parents shall sign the Deed of Surrender and in case one of them is dead, death certificate is required to be furnished in respect of the deceased parent.
- If a child born to a married couple is to be surrendered by one biological parent and the whereabouts of the other parent are not known, the child shall be treated as abandoned child and further procedures in accordance with regulation 6 of these regulations shall be followed.
- In case of a child born out of wedlock, only the mother can surrender the child and if the mother is a minor, the Deed of Surrender shall be signed by an accompanying adult as the witness.
- If the surrender is by a person other than the biological parents who is not appointed as a guardian by a court of law, the child shall be treated as abandoned child and further procedures in accordance with regulation 6 shall be followed.
- The Specialised Adoption Agency and the Child Welfare Committee shall ensure that a copy of the Deed of Surrender is given to the surrendering parents or person.
- Strict confidentiality shall be maintained in cases of all documents pertaining to biological parents in all circumstances the parents express their willingness for divulging the same.
- The surrender of a child by an unwed mother before a single women member of the CWC shall be considered as surrender as envisaged under Section 35 of the ACT and her right to privacy has to be protected.
- The surrender of a child before CWC shall be in camera of Adoption Regulations 2017.
- The surrender of a child or children by the biological parents for adoption by the step-parents shall be before the CWC as envisaged under section 35(1) of the ACT in the format given at schedule XXI of Adoption Regulations 2017.
- Efforts shall be made by the CWC or the SAA to discourage surrender by biological parents and explore the possibility of parents retaining the child through counselling.
- The CWC or SAA shall inform the parents/ legal guardian that they can reclaim the child only within a period of 60 days from the date of surrender.
- The CWC shall issue an order signed by at least 3 members declaring the surrendered child as legally free for adoption after the expiry of 60 days.
C) Responsibilities of CWC
- In addition to this the CWC members as a principle should maintain confidentiality at all times and also try to opt for institutionalisation as a last resort for children in need of care and protection.