Observing that identification of children who have lost parents due to COVID does not brook any further delay, the Supreme Court Tuesday directed the state governments and union territories (UTs) to file status reports giving particulars about the number of children who have become orphan after March 2020. A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose directed the the District Magistartes to issue necessary instructions to the district child protection officers to take assistance of the police, civil society, gram panchayats, anganwadi and ASHA workers for identification of orphans. The apex court said this is in addition to mechanisms available in Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and rules. “The identification of children who have lost both parents or one parent after March 2020 does not brook any further delay,” the bench said.
It said District Magistrates are directed to continue uploading the information on Bal Swaraj portal of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). Child welfare committees are directed to complete the inquiry within the time limit specified under Act and provide assistance and rehabilitation to orphans, the bench added.
“All state governments, UTs are directed to file status reports giving particulars giving the number of children who have become orphan after March 2020. The number of children produced before the child welfare committee and their particular who have been provided with benefits of the schemes by the state governments,” the bench said. It also directed the states to provide details regarding payment of Rs 2000 monetary assistance given to needy orphans under the Integrated Child Development Services scheme.
With regard to education of orphan children, the top court directed the state governments to ensure that orphans continue to study in the same school, private or government, for the current academic year and in case of any difficulty they may be accommodated in the neighbourhood school under the Right to Education Act. The apex court also directed the state governments to furnish details about children who have been accommodated in government and private schools and posted the matter for hearing on August 26.
The top court’s direction came after perusing a report filed by advocate Gaurav Agrawal, who has been appointed amicus curiae, in a suo motu case seeking identification of orphaned children due to COVID-19 or otherwise and providing them immediate relief by the state governments.
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