26 Aug 2021 6:32 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the State Governments to ensure that the education of children, who became orphans after the onset of COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, in private schools continue without disruption at least during the present academic year. This can be done by asking schools to waive fee or state bearing the fee for such children, the Court suggested.The States...
The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the State Governments to ensure that the education of children, who became orphans after the onset of COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, in private schools continue without disruption at least during the present academic year.
This can be done by asking schools to waive fee or state bearing the fee for such children, the Court suggested.
The States were directed to act in cohesion with Child Welfare Committees & District Education Officers in having dialogue with private schools where these children are studying to ensure their education this year is not disrupted.
A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose passed this direction in the suo motu case taken to deal with the issue of children affected by COVID(In Re Contagion of COVID Virus in Children Protection Homes).
Although the bench started the dictation of the order for the State of Andhra Pradesh, it later said that it is making the above order applicable to all states.
The bench said that states must take "pro-active steps" in this regard.
"For children who have lost either parent or both parents after March 2020, the State Governments shall confer with private schools to waive the fee of the distressed children for the current academic year. In case, the private institutions are unwilling to effectuate such waiver, the State Governments shall shoulder the burden of the fee", the Court ordered.
In respect of those children amongst the 2600 registered under the PM CARES For Children Scheme, it is open to the State Governments to request the Government of India to bear the fee and other expenses pertaining to their education, for the current academic year.
The bench underlined that the delay in uploading the information of children who lost one or both the parents during COVID in the 'Bal Swaraj Portal' of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights "would be detrimental to interest of distressed children".
On last occasion, Supreme Court had directed the States and Union Territories to take assistance from several agencies at the grass-root level for completing the process. The Bench had noted that the identification of children who have lost both or one parent after March 2020 cannot afford any further delay.
The Court had ordered the District Magistrates to issue necessary instructions to the Child welfare & protection Officers to take assistance of the Police, DCPU, Civil Society Organisations, Gram panchayats, Anganwadi and Asha networks for identification of orphans".
The District Magistrates were directed to provide necessary information till stage 5 as it appears on the Bal Swaraj portal to enable NCPCR to monitor implementation of schemes.
The Court had directed that the Child Welfare Committees to complete inquiries within the time limit specified in the act and provide required assistance and rehabilitation to orphans.
All State and Union Territories have been directed to file status report giving following particulars:
The bench was considering the suo motu case In Re Contagion of COVID Virus in Children Protection Homes. The suo motu case was initiated in March 2020 to address the issue of COVID spread in juvenile homes, child care centres etc. This year, during the second wave, the Court took note of the issue of children who became orphans during the COVID pandemic period.
On May 28, the Court had directed the Union and States to identify children who have become orphans post March, 2020, whether it be due to the pandemic or otherwise, and upload their information in the 'Bal Swaraj' portal of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights. The bench has also passed directions to control illegal adoption of such orphans.
The bench had earlier sought details from the Centre regarding the benefits announced under PM CARES Fund for orphans.
Click here to read/download the order