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Plea In SC Seeks Direction For Providing Better Facilities To The Inmates In Child Care Institutions[Read Petition]

Radhika Roy
25 Jun 2020 4:46 AM GMT
Plea In SC Seeks Direction For Providing Better Facilities To The Inmates In Child Care Institutions[Read Petition]
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An Application seeking for directions to provide appropriate medical treatment and facilities to the girls who have been tested positive for COVID-19 in a shelter home in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, has been filed before the Supreme Court in the matter regarding Exploitation of Children in Orphanages in State of Tamil Nadu.

Filed by Amicus Curiae Aparna Bhat, the Application comes at the heels of the press release issued by the National Human Rights Commission with regard to their suo moto cognizance of media reports that 57 minor girls tested positive for COVID-19 at a state-run children's shelter home in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. Furthermore, five of the girls were also found to be pregnant and one girl was HIV positive.

The Application further seeks a report on their health condition on a regular basis, as well as directions to the Centre to issue an advisory to all Child Welfare Committees "to ensure that children who are being newly admitted into any CCIs are suitably quarantined before allowing them to be placed in CCIs and the necessary resources for the same be allocated by the Union of India as an interim measure to meet the extraordinary requirements of the pandemic".

In addition to the above, the Application also prays for directs to the Centre to immediately identify Homes for the purposes of quarantining children who are COVID-19 positive and/or who are in need of being quarantined since their immediate history cannot be accessed and they may be asymptomatic carriers. Directions for making testing mandatory before testing new children in the CCIs has also been prayed for.

The Application further prays for directions to the Centre to call for a report from each State about the condition of the children in the CCIs and their COVID-19 readiness, as well to ensure that adequate safety kits, masks, PPEs, sanitisers, supply of water is made available in all CCIs as well as the office of the Juvenile Justice Boards and Child Welfare Committees.

The Respondents have also been directed to substantiate the mechanisms put in place to ensure the compliance of the Order dated 05.12.2018 passed by the Supreme Court in the instant petition, including the activation of a centralized data base of children living in CCIs.

The 2018 Order had been passed in a writ petition wherein the Union of India had been directed to undertake the preparation of a report on the basis of data collected with respect to the management of institutions and the rights of children; the report was to serve as a plan or vision document for the immediate future. However, the Application contends that the Order is yet to be complied with, even though more than 18 months have passed.

"That in the meanwhile, children are reported to have been treated poorly bordering on severe abuse in many Child Care Institutions ("CCIs") across the country."

It has further been averred that directions passed by the Apex Court in Re: Contagion of COVID-19 Virus in Children Protection Homes in an Order dated 03.04.2020, with respect ot measures to be taken by Child Welfare Committees, Juvenile Justice Boards, CCIs and Governments have also not been followed.

On 11.06.2020, the Supreme Court had taken cognizance of a case of 35 children in a Protection Home in Royapuram, Chennai being infected with COVID-19. The Court had directed the Health and Family Welfare Department, Tamil Nadu, and the Social Welfare Department to submit a report giving details for the spread of the virus as well as the health of children in other Protection Homes in the State. All States were also mandated to fill in details as per a format that had been provided in the Order to enable better reporting.

"That it is clear from the aforesaid incidents that even though children houses in CCIs may not have been COVID-19 positive when the first order dated 03.04.2020 was passed, there have been at least two instances where children were found positive subsequently. The spread of COVID-19 in CCIs is a grave danger due to the number of children who may be housed in such institutions. At this stage, while awaiting the report of NHRC with respect to the Shelter Home in Kanpur, it is important that adequate pre-emptive steps are taken to prevent further cases in CCIs."

The Application contends that there are "grave deficiencies in the manner in which State institutions deal with the welfare of and the conditions under which children are kept" and that "it is apparent that the rights of children housed in CCIs are currently in dire straits with the challenges posed by the pandemic and the bare minimum requirements for a good management protocol".

In light of the above, the Application has been filed to emphasise on the urgent need for medical treatment and facilities to the be provided to the girls in Kanpur, while suggesting other directions that must be taken by the institutions.
[Read Petition]

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