New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday sought the Centre and NDMA's reply on a plea by an NGO alleging sudden rise in child trafficking cases during the COVID-19 lockdown in the country.

A bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and Hrisheksh Roy, in a hearing through video conferencing, sought the assistance of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on the issue and indicated that it may appoint an “experts committee” to look into the child trafficking issue.

It also sought reply from National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on the plea by the NGO, ‘Bachpan Bachao Andolan’.

Senior advocate HS Phoolka, appearing for the NGO, said that a “pro-active approach” is required by all district authorities to ensure that such incidents, which have risen recently, are effectively curbed.

Acknowledging that the bench is aware that trafficking is done for prostitution and labour, the CJI asked the NGO’s counsel HS Phoolka and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to research on the matter and find out how the market itself can be stopped.

The CJI issued directions for registration of contractors and to seek list of their employees to ensure no child labour takes place. “Only policing won't do. We are the ones who provide them a market since child labour is cheap. We will have to start with contractors,” he said.

The matter has been listed for hearing after two weeks and the apex court has asked the parties to do research on the issue and find some way to ensure that children are not exploited.