Covid: SC seeks data on pandemic orphans from Centre and the states
The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Centre and the states to furnish data relating to the number of children orphaned by the pandemic and the steps being taken for their rehabilitation.
A bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose said the government had a duty and obligation under even the Juvenile Justice Act (Care and Protection of Children), 2015, to ensure that “children in need” are given protection and rehabilitation.
The court, which had earlier passed suo motu directions to prevent kids in child-protection homes from getting infected by the coronavirus, on Friday asked the authorities to compile and furnish data on the number of orphaned children by Sunday evening to amicus curiae (friend of court) Gaurav Agrawal. The amicus has been asked to compile a detailed note on the steps taken by the states and Union Territories to rehabilitate these children and submit it before the court.
The bench passed the directions after the amicus submitted a note to say that several hundred children had been orphaned in the country after their parents died of Covid.
The amicus told the court that the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPR) had last month taken cognisance of reports that many children were being adopted illegally. The NCPR had directed the states and Union Territories to put up on their respective websites the steps taken to rehabilitate orphaned children.
Additional solicitor-general Aishwaraya Bhati, appearing for the Centre, informed the court that the Union government had already issued advisories to the states and Union Territories on the rehabilitation of not only orphaned children, but also those who had been abandoned by their parents.
The court, while taking on record the submissions, said it would also be the duty of the district administrations in all states to take charge of children orphaned by the pandemic and immediately ensure their basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter.