The apex court said that rights of children need to be enforced equally strongly and if the executive ignores the mandate of parliament with "continuing callousness", it would only be detrimental to the children of the country.
The top court's observations came while passing a slew of directions for effective implementation of the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
"It is said that children are the future of the country and if they are not looked after, it is the future of the country that is at stake," a bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said in its 62-page judgement.
"No one has any doubt that it is time for the state to strongly and proactively acknowledge that even children in our country have fundamental rights and human rights and they need to be enforced equally strongly," it said.
It directed the Ministry of Women and Child Development and all state governments to ensure that all positions in the national and state commissions for protection of child rights are filled up well in time and adequate staff is provided to these statutory bodies so that they can function effectively.
"The state governments must ensure that all positions in the JJBs (Juvenile Justice Boards) and CWCs (Chile Welfare Committees) are filled up expeditiously and in accordance with the model rules or the rules framed by the state government. Any delay in filling up the positions might adversely impact on children and this should be avoided," it said.
The top court also requested the chief justices of all high courts to register proceedings on their own for effective implementation of the Act so that "roadblocks", if any, were meaningfully addressed after hearing authorities concerned.
"Finally, we request and urge the chief justice of each high court to seriously consider establishing child friendly courts and vulnerable witness courts in each district," the bench said.