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THE ROLE OF THE NATIONAL COMMISSION OF FOR PROTECTION OF CHILD RIGHTS (NCPCR

)
IN MONITORING THE

RIGHT TO EDUCATION (RTE) ACT

By Karmanye Thadani Research Associates, CCS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Pg. Acknowledgements……………………………………………………………………………………….... 3

Abstract.……………………………………………………………………………………………………..…...

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I. Introduction…………………………………………………………….……….…………………………...

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II. Functioning (Not specific to the Right to Education Act) ………………….……..…...

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III. Role of the NCPCR in implementing the RTE Act ……………………….………..……... 16

IV. Conclusion.………………………………………….……………….……………………………...…...

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank my colleagues in CCS, President Parth J. Shah and all those in the School Choice Team, especially Mr. Shantanu Gupta and Ms. Aakansha Bapna, for all the help and support. I am also very grateful to the staff of the NCPCR for having been so very cooperative.

. have formed the basis of this research. A uniform style of foot noting has been used throughout the text.ABSTRACT This research paper analyses the work of the NCPCR as regards monitoring the implementation of the RTE Act in theory and in practice. Umesh Gupta. a critic of this statutory body. gets analytical. The writing is descriptive. besides informal interviews with the NCPCR staff and Mr. The functioning of State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCRs) and / or other such equivalent bodies at the state level is beyond the scope of this study. making the research methodology doctrinal as well as nondoctrinal. Material from the NCPCR website and media reports. and in the conclusion.

INTRODUCTION The NCPCR was set up in March 2007 under the Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights Act. and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child”1.htm accessed on 21st June 2012 2 Ibid. a child being someone belonging to the age group of 0-18 years2. . The Commission states that it “visualizes a rights-based perspective flowing into National Policies and Programmes. The Commission claims its mandate to be “to ensure that all Laws. taking care of specificities and strengths of each region.I. The Commission was set up top meet some international child rights obligations. most notably the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.ncpcr. Policies. 2005. District and Block levels.gov. Programmes.in/about_ncpcr. In order to touch every child. along with nuanced responses at the State. it seeks a deeper penetration to communities and households and expects that the ground experiences inform the support the field receives from all the 1 „About NCPCR‟. available at http://www.

II. is to be headquartered in New Delhi6 (its address is 5th Floor.in/complaints.1100017) and consist of a Chairperson and six other members. 36.ncpcr. FUNCTIONING (NOT SPECIFIC TO THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION ACT) A. Chanderlok Building. the author has also visited the office several times 8 Supra note 6.htm accessed on 21st June 2012.gov. Ibid. integrity. sound institution-building processes. Janpath. by virtue of the Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights Act. ability. Section 3(2)(b) . New Delhi . out of which at least two are be women. The Chairperson should be a person of eminence and one who has done outstanding work for the welfare of children. respect for decentralization at the level of the local bodies at the community level and larger societal concern for children and their well-being”5. are to be persons of eminence.8 The six other members.. standing and experience in any of the following fields93 4 5 6 Supra note 1 Ibid. Composition The NCPCR. Section 3(2)(a) 9 Ibid. Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights Act. available at http://www. Section 3(3) 7 „Complaints‟.authorities at the higher level”3 and thus “sees 4an indispensable role for the State. 2005.

12 The Chairperson or a 10 11 Supra note 5. care. Section 5(1) .10 The Chairperson and every Member are to hold office as such for a term of three years from the date on which he assumes office..(i) (ii) education child health. the age of 60 years. welfare or child development children with disabilities (iii) juvenile justice or care of neglected or marginalized children or (iv) elimination of child labour or children in distress (v) child psychology or sociology (vi) laws relating to children The Chairperson is to be appointed by the Central Government on the recommendation of a three-member Selection Committee constituted by the Central Government under the Chairmanship of the Minister in-charge of the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the other six members are to also be appointed by the Central Government. the age of 65 years and in the case of a Member.11 However. Section 4 Ibid. no Chairperson or any other Member shall hold office as such after he has attained in the case of the Chairperson. provided that no Chairperson or a Member shall hold the office for more than two terms.

Supra note 5. Inquire into violation of child rights and recommend initiation of proceedings in such cases d. HIV/ AIDS. communal violence. Reports upon the working of those safeguards c. trafficking. Functions The functions of the NCPCR. 2005. as laid out in Section 13(1) of the Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights Act. riots. resign his office at any time. Examine all factors that inhibit the enjoyment of rights of children affected by terrorism. are as follows:a. as the Commission may deem fit.13 B. maltreatment. Examine and review the safeguards provided by or under any law for the time being in force for the protection of child rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation b. Present to the Central Government. domestic violence. annually and at such other intervals. by writing under his/her hand addressed to the Central Government. natural disasters. 12 13 Ibid. Section 5(2) .Member may.

torture and exploitation. and other activities on child rights and make recommendations for their effective implementation in the best interest of children g. h. Undertake and promote research in the field of child rights Spread child rights literacy among various sections of society and promote awareness of the safeguards available for protection of these rights through publications. under . children without family and children of prisoners and recommend appropriate remedial measures f. Study treaties and other international instruments and undertake periodic review of existing policies. pornography. children in conflict with law. marginalised and disadvantaged children. and prostitution and recommend appropriate remedial measures e. including children in distress. juveniles. media. Look into matters relating to children in need of special care and protection. seminars and other available means i. programmes. Inspect or cause to be inspected any juvenile custodial home or any other place of residence or institution meant for children.

the control of the Central Government or any State Government or any other authority including any institution run by a social organization. Deprivation and violation of child rights Non implementation of laws providing for protection and development of children iii. Such other functions as it may consider necessary for the promotion of child rights and any other matter incidental to the above functions . ii. where children are detained or lodged for the purpose of treatment. Non-compliance of policy decisions. reformation or protection and take up with these authorities for remedial action. Inquire into complaints and take suo moto notice of matters related to: i. if found necessary j. guidelines or instructions aimed at mitigating hardships to and ensuring welfare of the children and to provide relief to such children or take up the issues arising out of such matters with appropriate authorities k.

namely(a) summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath (b) (c) (d) discovery and production of any document receiving evidence on affidavits requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office . In this section. in respect of the following matters. the aspect of conducting enquiries has been mentioned. Powers In the list of functions enumerated above. we shall examine the powers conferred upon the Commission during the process of conducting enquiries (which find a mention in Section 14 of the Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights Act) and the steps it can take after completing the enquiry (which are mentioned in Section 15). in particular. While taking up an enquiry.C. the NCPCR has been conferred all the powers of a civil court trying a suit under the CPC and.

On completion of the inquiry. orders or writs as that Court may deem necessary .(e) issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses or documents. it may recommend to the concerned Government or authority the initiation of proceedings for prosecution or such other action as the Commission may deem fit against the concerned person or persons (ii) approach the Supreme Court or the High Court concerned for such directions. the Commission can take any of the following steps – (i) where the inquiry discloses the commission of violation of child rights of a serious nature or contravention of provisions of any law for the time. The Commission shall have the power to forward any case to a Magistrate having jurisdiction to try the same and the Magistrate to whom any such case is forwarded shall proceed to hear the complaint against the accused as if the case has been forwarded to him/her under Section 346 of the CrPC.being in force.

in/letters.htm accessed on 21st June 2012 17 „NCPCR State Visits‟.gov.ncpcr.ncpcr.in/activities. available at http://www.gov.D.ncpcr.in/publications_reports. available at http://www.ncpcr. besides writing letters to Government bodies appealing to them to take action16. available at http://www.htm accessed on 21st June 2012 .ncpcr.in/state_visits.gov. to the government and other concerned stakeholders in this direction15.in/ncpcr_events. available at http://www. It also carries out ground-level research of prevalent child rights problems in different parts of the country by way of field visits17 and publishes reports18. It looks at the gaps in the legal and policy frameworks from the perspective of child rights14 and makes recommendations.htm accessed on 21st June 2012 19 „NCPCR Events‟.ncpcr. often in the form of guidelines.htm accessed on 21st June 2012 16 „NCPCR Letters‟. available at http://www. It organizes conferences. seminars and workshops to sensitize people about child rights issues.gov.htm accessed on 21st June 2012 18 „NCPCR Publications/Reports‟.htm accessed on 21st June 2012 15 „NCPCR Guidelines‟. ACTIVITIES TAKEN UP BY THE NCPCR (NOT SPECIFIC TO THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION ACT) The NCPCR has been engaging in a wide variety of activities to further the cause of child rights. available at http://www.in/ncpcr_guidelines.19 14 „NCPCR Activities‟.gov.gov.

ncpcr.The issues the NCPCR takes up include child labour. children with disabilities as well as children on railway platforms. female foetecide.21 These require more detailed discussion.20 As mentioned earlier. child health and nutrition.htm accessed on 21st June 2012 . It even conducts public hearings. available at http://www.ncpcr.in/issues. it addresses complaints and takes suo moto cognizance of problems. non-anonymous complaints regarding any nontrivial matter can be made to the Commission free of cost in any of the constitutionally recognized languages so long as the matter concerns child rights without involving specific civil law aspects such as property rights or contractual obligations and is not pending with any other legally 20 „Issues‟.in/public_hearings. the needs of children without parental care.htm accessed on 21st June 2012 21 „NCPCR Public Hearings‟. available at http://www. the displacement of children within the country and also the participation of children in reality shows. As regards complaints.gov. the treatment of children in juvenile justice homes.gov.

ncpcr@gmail.gov. we may discuss the aspect of public hearings. his/her/their parent(s). available at http://www. 24 Ibid.com.26 For a public hearing.25 The concerned government officials are also present to present their status report with respect to the particular grievance. an NGO must identify the relevant instance of violation of child rights with all the relevant details as to the victim(s).23 Complaints can be sent to the Commission on its postal address or sent by e-mail to complaints. .24 The powers the NCPCR has while instituting an enquiry while receiving a complaint or taking suo moto cognizance of an issue and after the same have already been discussed. the jury gives directions on the case.in/complaints. Next.htm accessed on 21st June 2012 23 Ibid.constituted commission or sub judice with any court or tribunal. Public hearings are gatherings where specific grievances are aired before a „jury‟. departments to take action and follow 22 „Complaints‟. 25 Supra note 20 26 Ibid. perpetrator(s) and circumstance(s) and send petitions to the relevant Govt.ncpcr.22 All complaints may be addressed to the Chairperson of the Commission. After hearing the grievance and the official action-taken report.

29 Supra note 20 30 Ibid. 30 If no response is received within a month. a special jury or enquiry commission is set up by the NCPCR to suggest what remedial action can be taken and it recommends the same to the executive or judiciary.up with them for the same.27 In case of non-action. officials. the NCPCR sends the department a reminder. 31 Even then if no action is taken. besides registering an FIR with the police if the case so warrants it. 32 Ibid. the NCPCR shall issue directions to the relevant Govt. 31 Ibid. .32 27 28 Supra note 20 Ibid. 29 The hearing is video-recorded and within a fortnight of the hearing. it appoints a jury comprising experts in the field and serves summons to the victim/his/her parent(s)/representative(s) as also the concerned Govt.28 If the NCPCR deems the matter fit for a public hearing. the NGO can write a petition to the NCPCR asking for a public hearing with all relevant documents attached. department to take action and send a report of the same to the Commission.

ROLE OF THE NCPCR IN IMPLEMENTING THE RTE ACT The RTE Act. Article 31(2) of the RTE Act states that while discharging its functions under the RTE Act. take “necessary steps” as provided under Section 15 of the Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights Act. a legislation meant to define the scope of the right to free and compulsory education in the age group of 6 to 14 years as a fundamental right under Article 21A of the Indian constitution. It is . the NCPCR shall have all the powers bestowed upon it by Section 14 of the Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights Act. Thus. in this direction. the modality of functioning of the NCPCR remains the same even with respect to monitoring the implementation of the RTE Act. authorizes the NCPCR to “examine and review the safeguards” provided by or under the RTE Act and “recommend measures for their effective implementation” as also “inquire into complaints relating to child‟s right to free and compulsory education” and even. under Article 31(1).III.

„NCPCR head advocates amendment in Child Labour Act‟. the NCPCR has looked into the implementation of various other statutes dealing with child rights. which is certainly legitimate and well within its responsibility.pdf accessed on 4th July 2012 .interesting to note that while the RTE Act explicitly mentions the NCPCR.ncpcr. for instance.html accessed on 25th June 2012 34 See. such as the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act33. „Report on children coming from North East to Mangalore and situation of children institutions in Mangalore: Visit Report of Dr. even though those statutes don‟t make any mention of the NCPCR. the issue of the implementation of the RTE Act has found due attention.34 33 See. We may now examine in some detail the work done by the Commission with respect to implementing the RTE Act. available at http://zeenews.india. A separate division. called the Right to education (RTE) Division has been created for this purpose. available at http://www.com/news/nation/ncpcr-head-advocatesamendment-in-child-labour-act_781223. wherever the NCPCR has undertaken field visits to oversee the child rights scenario in general. for example. Yogesh Dube‟.in/Reports/Manglore%20Report.gov. This apart.

Composition of the RTE Division It can be understood well from the block diagram given below.A. NCPCR Chairperson Member Secretary RTE Division Senior Project Coordinator Project Coordinator Programmes Project Coordinator – Admin & Coordination Project Coordinator Complaints Project Officer Project Assistant Project Officer yet to be allotted to Project Coordinator Project Officer Project Officer 1 Accounts Officer 1 Programmer .

for a period of three years. . officers are eligible for. and selection is based on an interview. the earlier one being „National Coordinator‟. B. Complaints The work of the NCPCR relating to implementing the RTE Act has not been limited to the issue of corporal punishment. and has extended to other areas as well. The designation of „Senior Project coordinator‟ is a new name.1 Accounts Assistant 4 Data Entry Operators The Member Secretary is an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the Joint Secretary level appointed by the central Govt. depending on their designation. They get all the benefits and emoluments that other Govt. The other posts are filled through a recruitment process with certain eligibility criteria as to educational qualifications and work experience.

761 complaints received39. 38 Ibid. by now. such as those relating to no detention till Class VIII and denial of admission on the ground of disability.36 However.37 Breaking down the numbers year-wise.indiatimes. or just 24% of the entire lot. only about 6%! cases of Right to education act violations remain unresolved‟.35 An RTI query reveals that as of March 2012. 39 Ibid.The NCPCR has received complaints pertaining to issues of noncompliance of the Act. available at http://articles. the NCPCR received 2.850 complaints regarding the RTE Act.economictimes.com/2012-03-31/news/31266620_1_ncpcrrte-act-protection-of-child-rights accessed on 2nd July 2012 36 Supra note 35 37 Ibid. the commission received 1. 35 ‘76% . it has been able to resolve just 692 cases. And from 1st April 2011 to 16th March 2012. from 1st April 2010 to 31st March 2011. of which it resolved 592 cases38. the commission could only resolve a mere 100 of the total 1. only about 54%.089 complaints (including those relating to corporal punishment).

of the 15 complaints. three were taken care of. According to the document. Delhi seems to be better off than most other states. in 2011-12.42 A case each was resolved in Maharashtra and West Bengal from where the number of complaints has been 132 and 99 respectively. of 59 complaints. 80 were resolved. 43 Ibid.”40 Despite what looks like a dismal performance. who filed the RTI application. 44 Ibid. none has been resolved.Mr. Umesh Gupta. 45 Ibid.41 In Tamil Nadu. seven were acted upon. but the numbers actually denote the lowering efficacy of the NCPCR in monitoring the proper implementation of the RTE Act over the two years.44 Nor has any case been resolved in Odisha (35 cases). 40 41 .43 However. in states like Andhra Pradesh. of the total 517 complaints received from Delhi.45 Ibid. Supra note 35 42 Ibid. Haryana (17) or Assam (12). from where 780 complaints were received. and in Uttar Pradesh. said – “Not only is the data shocking.

schools. and getting these problems solved obviously takes time. Delhi. and then seeking a detailed report as to the reasons for non-compliance. often bureaucrats in concerned Govt. which also contributed to the backlog. according to Mr. the Complaints Cell was understaffed. . the NCPCR has requested for enquiries to be instituted against those inefficient bureaucrats by the concerned departments. the NCPCR has changed its policy by first instructing the concerned Govt. an estimated 60-70% of the complaints relate to Govt. He also mentioned that now. officer to get the student admitted in the school or if not that one in case that the seats in that one had been filled.According to a staff member of the NCPCR who was interviewed by the author of this paper in person. Kumar. comprising only three people. schools failing to meet infrastructure norms laid down under the RTE Act or there being no school in a certain area. That apart. then another one to the satisfaction of the parents. He also mentioned that earlier. in the context of admission-related complaints in Govt. the Directorate of Education. He stated that recently. ranging across a few months. since doing the reverse delayed the process of the child‟s admission to his/her detriment. bodies (such as in the context of Delhi. and MCD) don‟t give timely responses to the NCPCR.

in his opinion. He also cited a case of corporal punishment filed by a prominent activist. and after a prolonged period of three years. C. most complaints are admission-related. Programmes The RTE Division of the NCPCR. rather. has met Mr. as the block diagram given earlier clearly elucidates. Umesh Gupta in person. has a separate wing to carry out his Programmes. when it has the authority to take suo moto action. the NCPCR. These are primarily carried out with the help of Social Audit Groups (SAGs) and State Representatives (SRs). .The author of this paper. the victim of which was his own grandson. He also vociferously argues as to how the NCPCR is silent on child labour in its own vicinity. and he argues that this claim of most complaints being infrastructurerelated is not true. just as it has one to address complaints. however. wrongly declared the complaint to be without substance.

there are district coordinators. school management and a community at large to discuss education-issues.Talking of SAGs first. engaging Govt. block monitors and panchayat facilitators at the district and block levels respectively. The NCPCR writes letter to the concerned state governments authorizing the SAGs to carry out its own work and soliciting the cooperation of the state governments for the purpose. there are 12 SAGs. what is called a shikha sanwad (which would really translate to „education dialogue‟). they are working on a pilot project of certain blocks in 11 states. They also conduct. The SAGs check whether the infrastructure norms stipulated for schools under the RTE Act are being met and raise awareness about the Act in general. their NGOs or Civil Society groups partnering with the NCPCR. at the block or district level. They also survey out–off–school children and report their The SAGs sign Memorandum of Understanding findings to NCPCR. . with the NCPCR to complete their work within a given time-frame and to submit reports to the latter. At the grass root level. officials. Currently. on regular basis. They coordinate with the concerned SCPCRs also and carry out in of teachers and educational officers. Collectively.

. specific authorities from the State . parts of Assam infested by the recent Bodo-Muslim violence) and education gets due priority in the same. The Programmes and Complaints wings of the RTE Division working close coordination when it comes of public hearings. Legislative and Executive Suggestions The model RTE rules for the states do not include mechanisms of grievance redressal and the NCPCR is working on formulating the same to make model rules that include all aspects of grievance redressal including the method of lodging complaints. There is also a project supported by the PMO to address child rights concerns in areas of civil unrest (e.The State Representatives (SRs) are appointed in an honorary capacity to engage with the Govt. The SRs are entitled to work on the entire multitude of child right issues and not just those pertaining to education.g. D. schools and the community at large on behalf of the NCPCR. They too participate in shiksha sanwads and a required to submit reports. not in specific block only. They can act throughout the concerned state.

this was undoubtedly a child rights issue in India even before the RTE Act came into existence.ece accessed on 26th June 2012 . available at http://www. „Guidelines for Eliminating Corporal Punishment in Schools‟. 46 NCPCR. timeline for grievance redressal etc. available at http://www.com/news/natio/article2963918. 47 Section 17 also prohibits mental harassment of children and discrimination of any nature.ncpcr.ncpcr.thehindu. for example. not only according to international law but also because that has been illegal going by Supreme Court interpretations of the IPC even prior to the emergence of the RTE Act.machinery to be approached for complaints.pdf accessed on 26th June 2012 48 „NCPCR draws guidelines to eliminate corporal punishment‟.in/Guidelines/Guidelines%20for%20Eliminating%20Corpora l%20Punishment%20in%20Schools. In fact. The NCPCR has also done commendable work in the field of corporal punishment.46 In fact.gov. the NCPCR has taken interest in this issue even before the RTE Act came into being. The NCPCR has come up with a set of guidelines that was made public on 5th March 201248 and has received considerable attention from the media. this letter dating 9th August 2007 (the RTE Act dates back to 2009). mental harassment and discrimination.pdf accessed on 26th June 2012 47 See. Section 17 of the RTE Act prohibits corporal punishment.in/Guidelines/Guidelines_on_corporal_punishment_ d_o_to_Chief_Secretaries_9_Aug_2007. available at http://www.gov.

The NCPCR has suggested that school boards should ask the schools affiliated to them to ensure a “corporal punishment-free environment” that would be one of the conditions for granting affiliation or recognition while practice of physical punishment or mental harassment should be one of the grounds for withdrawal of affiliation.having been reported by the leading national newspapers and magazines in the country. it said. mental harassment and discrimination without any delay and should forward recommendations to district level authorities within 48 hours of the occurrence. mental harassment or discrimination. They also suggest that Corporal Punishment Monitoring Cells (CPMCs) should hear grievances related to corporal punishment. The guidelines suggest that school teachers should provide a written undertaking that they would not engage in any action that could be construed as amounting to physical punishment. . child sexual abuse. The guidelines ask the schools to constitute special monitoring cells to take prompt action in cases of physical punishment or harassment of children.

thehindu.2% of the children surveyed had been subject to outward rejection by being told that they were not capable of learning or some other kind of verbal punishment. the NCPCR experts have come out with guidelines which stress on “positive engagement” with children.It also says that schools should have annual social audits of physical punishment. 49 „NCPCR draws guidelines to eliminate corporal punishment‟. .ece accessed on 26th June 2012 50 Ibid. harassment and discrimination.50 Based on the findings of the report. The guidelines suggest that results of the audit should be made public before start of every new academic year.com/news/national/article2963918.632 children across seven States that showed that 6. mental harassment and discrimination.623 children had reported experiencing some kind of punishment.49 As many as 81. The NCPCR constituted comprehensive guidelines following a detailed study which was conducted in 2009-10 involving 6. All school children are to be informed through campaigns and publicity drives that they have a right to speak against physical punishments. available at http://www.

They also lay down that life skills education should be made a part of school curriculum and should address issues of self-esteem.”51 A Task Force on Child Entitlements to suggest legislative and executive reforms in respect of child rights includes NCPCR staff and this task force is obviously also looking at education. NCPCR Chairperson Shantha Sinha said that the Commission had “brought together some of the best minds and experts to draft its guidelines on corporal punishment. The guidelines also suggest that school authorities should hold meetings with parent-teacher bodies on the guidelines and decide which procedures they should adopt to protect children and their rights in schools. 51 Supra note 49 . aggression. drug abuse. decision making.The guidelines advise teachers to pay positive attention to children and appreciate good efforts while ignoring minor lapses. coping with stress and others.

just as the Central Information Commission (CIC) imposes fines on bureaucrats not responding to RTI queries in time or not responding to them at all. strengthening the NCPCR as a body in general would indeed be beneficial from the point of view of the entire kaleidoscope of child rights issues. It has been succeed in removing some of its own bottlenecks. . is indeed doing considerable work as regards monitoring the implementation of the RTE Act. in the author‟s opinion. else. it would remain a toothless tiger. but it would be a good idea. to empower the body more by way of amending the statute under which it came into being (not the RTE Act) so as to allow it to follow up more rigorously with bureaucrats of the concerned department as to whether its directions has been followed and to allow it the slam fines on the inefficient ones. Though the focus of this paper in on education. Conclusion The NCPCR.IV. notwithstanding its perhaps much justified criticism.