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Calcutta HC: Calcutta HC Issues Directions To Protect Children Lodged In Protection Homes From COVID-19 [Read Order]

Akshita Saxena
9 April 2020 1:00 PM GMT
Calcutta HC: Calcutta HC Issues Directions To Protect Children Lodged In Protection Homes From COVID-19 [Read Order]
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"A time has come when we have to make compassion go viral in the months ahead, so that together we wither the storm and emerge stronger. The children need our compassion, attention and support."

The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday issued a host of directions to protect children lodged in Protection Homes from the deadly Corona virus.

A bench comprising Justice Harish Tandon and Justice Soumen Sen had taken up the case suo moto via video conferencing, in furtherance of the detailed directions passed by the Supreme Court on this subject.

While directing the state to strictly implement the directives of the top court, the bench also asked the District Judges to file a compliance report by April 21.

Inter alia, the bench issued the following supplementary directions to be observed by the Protection Homes:

  • The Principal Secretary, Child Welfare will ensure that the superintendent attached to the Homes does not leave the Home until the lockdown is lifted;
  • Each child must be properly screened at regular intervals and if any child is reported to have the symptoms of COVID-19, immediate steps should be taken for his/her treatment;
  • Security personnel attached to these protection homes will not be allowed entry inside the homes without the prior permission of the superintendent;
  • Special care must be taken of the mental health of children and the fear of corona must be removed from their minds.

The bench also took on record a report filed by the Juvenile Justice Committee of the High Court regarding steps already taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in child care institutions. On a perusal of the same, it highlighted the following measures, requiring "immediate attention" of the state government of West Bengal:

  • Video conferencing and special online sittings should be ensured in JJBs, CWCs and Children Homes
  • Release of the children to their respective families as far as feasible
  • Periodical visits be made by the Health Department to ensure proper health and hygiene of the children
  • Isolation rooms be established in every Homes
  • The Superintendent attached to each Homes shall monitor each child and upon noticing any symptom of COVID-19 shall take immediate steps to isolate such child and report the matter to the CMOH to ensure examination of the child clinically and pathologically including test for COVID-19, if there are infections to that effect
  • The Superintendent must also be attentive towards the staff of the Home and shall not allow any staff who may have developed such symptoms unless the said staff is fully quarantined and certified by the Medical Officer that the staff is fit to resume his duties
  • Any child produced for the first time whether before CWC or JJB and required to be sent on CCIs or any other Homes, should be first put in isolation to complete the quarantine period before being allowed to interact with the children of such Home. The Superintendent must ensure regular monitoring of such child

The court also expressed concern over the plight of migrants and their children, who may be in the need of care and protection. It thus directed the state government to identify and take care of such children of the migrant labourers who have arrived in the State since the outbreak of the pandemic

"The rights of such children shall be protected. In the report to be filed by the Government, the children of such migrant labourers and families as may be identified as CNCP, shall be disclosed. The report must also indicate the steps taken to protect the child rights of such migrant children," the bench directed.

Accordingly, compliance reports have been sought from the State government's Department of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare, and Department of Health by April 21.

Case Details:

Case Title: In re: Contagion of Covid 19 virus in Children Protection Homes

Case No.: WP No. 5327/2020

Quorum: Justice Harish Tandon and Justice Soumen Sen

Appearance: Advocate General Kishore Dutta

Click Here To Download Order

Read Order

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