CPM Kin Appointed Chairman of Kerala Child Rights Commission Flouting Norms

The State Cabinet meeting here on Wednesday appointed CPI (M) nominee K V Manoj Kumar as chairman of the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, despite the Congress-led opposition flagging the issue and expressing their vehement disapproval. Manoj Kumar was appointed discarding the applications of more than half a dozen well-qualified candidates with outstanding credentials including two district judges.

The appointment of K V Manoj Kumar created a stir in political circles as the rules for candidate selection for such a key position has been diluted by the State Government in order to accommodate a party nominee, in a blatant display of nepotism.

A panel headed by Health minister K K Shailaja replaced the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rules 2012 with the Commission for the Protection of Child Rights Act 2005, to appoint Manoj Kumar, who is the son of a CPI (M) leader in Kannur.

The Kerala Child Rights Commission Rules 2012 (KeSCPCR) has been given a go-by, as it clearly mandates that the candidates must have a track record of excellent work done towards children’s welfare and must have won accolades or distinction from the Central or State Government or from recognized institutions with a documentary citation substantiating the same. Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rules 2012 rules further mandate that the candidates should be holding or have held a position that is of or, above the rank of secretary to government.

Interestingly, the State government had appointed P Suresh, the previous chairperson in 2017 adhering to the 2012 rule. The State government invoked the 2005 act for the selection process as it only suggests that the candidates should be persons of eminence and must have done outstanding work for promoting the welfare of children. But the Kerala Child Rights Rules 2005 has not stipulated the criteria to define the ‘eminence’ of a person. Manoj Kumar is a Parent-Teacher Association President of Brennen HSS Thalassery School and has made no remarkable contribution to children’s welfare.

The opposition in the state has expressed strong discontent and came down heavily on the government over the appointment of K V Manoj Kumar. Speaking to media persons, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said that the post used to be held by former chief secretaries, with the salary scale of the post on par with the chief secretary’s. “The state government has appointed Manoj Kumar solely because he is a CPI (M) supporter.”  He said that the appointment of an unqualified person as the chairperson of the Kerala State Child Rights Protection Commission is a sign of arrogance and anarchy.

Congress leader V M Sudheeran argued that the appointment of K V Manoj Kumar was a violation of the oath of office. He demanded the state government to revoke the decision forthwith. Speaking to The Kochi Post, V M Sudheeran said that he has submitted a letter to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and health Minister K K Shailaja expressing discontent over the appointment of K V Manoj Kumar. “We are waiting for the response from the state government upon which a decision on the further course of action will be taken,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kannur DCC president Satheeshan Pacheni commented: ‘’The Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights should function as an independent body, and it is most unfortunate that the CPI (M) in Kerala is making a mockery of the law through such unruly practices.”

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