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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 25 June 2024
Concern about lack of basic amenities

SC seeks data from states, UTs on inhuman conditions faced by migrant children

The court passed the direction while dealing with a PIL filed by an NGO, The Child Rights Trust, seeking enforcement of the aggrieved children’s fundamental rights

Our Legal Correspondent New Delhi Published 14.04.21, 12:48 AM
While there were several measures taken for the protection of migrant workers including their travel back to their hometowns, the impact of all of this on the migrant children has not been addressed by the respondent authorities.

While there were several measures taken for the protection of migrant workers including their travel back to their hometowns, the impact of all of this on the migrant children has not been addressed by the respondent authorities. File picture

The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought data from all states and Union Territories on the alleged inhuman conditions being faced by thousands of children belonging to migrant families allegedly deprived of food, health, education and other basic amenities because of the pandemic.

“List the matter after two weeks. In the meantime, all the states/UTs may file their reply affidavit wherein they shall state the number of migrant children present in their respective States/UT and also the conditions of such children,” a bench of Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde and Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian said in a written order.

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The court passed the direction while dealing with a PIL filed by an NGO, The Child Rights Trust, through advocate Rukhsana Choudhury seeking enforcement of the aggrieved children’s fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14 (right to equality), 21 (right to life and personal liberty) 21A (right to education) besides fulfilment of directive principles under Articles 39 (adequate means of livelihood, etc) and 47 (duty of state to raise level of nutrition of various disadvantaged sections). According to the NGO, the severity of the impact of the Covid-19 crisis and the subsequent lockdown announced on March 24 last year had led to a mass exodus of millions of migrants from cities.

While there were several measures taken for the protection of migrant workers including their travel back to their hometowns, the impact of all of this on the migrant children has not been addressed by the respondent authorities.

It referred to migrant children of the following three categories — children of migrant workers who are left behind in their villages, children who are taken by the migrant families with them and migrant children who migrate for labour of their own. “All of these children have been the most vulnerable during this time and have been the worst affected. Children of migrants and migrating children remain invisible and are the most vulnerable and are denied access to healthcare and proper nutrition, access to education, and are living in makeshift, unfriendly, unhygienic and testing conditions,” the petition said.

“Migrant children affected due to Covid are still working in brick kilns, stone crusher units, construction sites, rice mills, plantations and other sectors where children as young as 5 years lend a hand to help their parents earn their daily sustenance. The pandemic is having a discriminatory impact on migrant children and has aggravated their vulnerabilities,” it alleged.

It was submitted that migrant children have been deprived of access to food security which is a fundamental right under Article 2l and also a statutory right under the National Food Security Act, especially because schools and anganwadis centres are closed and hence mid-day meals provided in the schools are not available.

“Children from 0-6 months and from 6 months to 3 years have other food and nutritional security guarantees under the NFS (National Food Security) Act which are not being complied with. Migrant children … are stranded or in relief camps and quarantine centres at source districts without food or shelter. Children of migrant workers who have been travelling with them, have died due to lack of food.

“In addition to food, the children of migrant workers are left in a particularly vulnerable position regarding health. There have been deaths of infants and children due to starvation, malnutrition and tiredness,” the petition said.

The matter has been listed after two weeks.

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