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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday observed that the dignity of children must be protected and sought a response from all states and union territories on the issue of trafficking of children from orphanages.

Chief Justice Dipak Misra issued notices to all states and union territories (UTs) and questioned them as to why exclusive human right courts had not been set up so far.

Holding it to be an issue of national importance, the court expanded the scope of the petition to include all states and sought to understand issues such as running of orphanages, mode and method of adoption, care and treatment given to the children etc.

“The dignity of a child must be protected. Rights of a child are sacred, for the future of the country depends on how they are treated," said Misra.

The court was hearing a plea by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on the issue of trafficking of children from orphanages in the state of West Bengal.

The national commission was appealing a 29 August order of the Calcutta high court questioning its jurisdiction to initiate a probe on trafficking of children from orphanages when the West Bengal state commission was already seized of the matter. This order was stayed by the court on Thursday.

The provisions of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, mandate setting up of human rights court in each district of every state for speedy trial of offences arising out of violation of human rights and appointment of a special public prosecutor for it.

The case will be heard next on 22 January.

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