The Supreme Court has directed State Governments and Union Territories to ensure that there is no break in the education of children who have become orphan or lost one parent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The State Government/Union Territories should ensure that there is no break in the education of children who have become orphans or lost either one parent during the Pandemic", the Court ordered.
A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose passed the direction in the suo moto case taken by the Court to consider the problems affecting children during COVID (In Re Contagion of COVID Virus in Children Protection Homes).
Advocate Guarav Agrawal, who is the amicus curiae in the case,the affected children should not face a situation of discontinuance of their education. Accepting the suggestions made by the amicus, the bench observed :
"If the affected children are studying in Government schools they should be permitted to continue. In so far as the children who are studying in private schools, the State Governments/Union Territories should take steps and direct the continuance of the children in those schools at least for period of six months by which time some arrangement can be worked out".
The bench has also passed directions to the States/UTs to continue the uploading of information of children who lost parents in COVID in the national portal of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights(NCPCR).
The Supreme Court noted in the order that 30,071 children have become orphans or have lost one parent or abandoned due to COVID19 as per data collected by NCPCR till June 6 (3,621 orphans, 26,176 have lost one parent and 274 children have been abandoned).
The other directions passed by the bench are :
1. State Governments/UTs are directed to continue identifying the children who have become orphans or lost a parent after March, 2020 either due to Covid-19 or otherwise and provide the data on the website of the NCPCR without any delay.
2. District Child Protection Units(DCPU) has been directed to contact the affected child and their guardian immediately on receipt of information about the death of a parent/parents. It is entrusted upon the DPCU to ensure that adequate provisions are made for ration, food, medicine, clothing etc. for the affected child.
3. District Child Protection Officer(DCPO) is directed to furnish his phone number and name, phone number of local official, who can be contacted by the guardian and the child. Directions have been further issued for a regular follow up by the concerned authorities, with the child, at least once in a month.
4. If the DCPO is of the prima facie opinion that the guardian is not suitable to take care of the child, he should produce the child before the CWC immediately.
5. Child Welfare Committees(CWC) should provide for all essential needs of the child during the pendency of inquiry, including all financial benefits.
6. State Governments/UTs are directed to make provisions for continuance of education of children both in Government as well as in private schools.
7. State Governments/UTs are further directed to take action against those NGOs/individuals who are indulging in illegal adoptions.
8. Wide publicity should be given to the provisions of Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and the prevailing schemes of the Union/State Governments/UTs, which would benefit the affected children.
9. DCPO shall take assistance of government servants at the Gram Panchayat level to monitor the welfare of disconsolate children, who are devastated by the catastrophe of losing their parent/paren
Title : In Re Contagion of COVID Virus In Children Protection Homes
Bench : Justices L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose
Citation : LL 2021 SC 268