15 Dec 2020 7:00 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Tuesday passed a slew of directions to States/Union Territories to cater to the educational needs of children in Child Care Institutions(CCI) and children who have been restored to families from CCIs.A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi issued the directions in the suo moto case "In Re Contagion of COVID19 Virus in Children...
The Supreme Court on Tuesday passed a slew of directions to States/Union Territories to cater to the educational needs of children in Child Care Institutions(CCI) and children who have been restored to families from CCIs.
A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi issued the directions in the suo moto case "In Re Contagion of COVID19 Virus in Children Protection Homes", after accepting the suggestions made by amicus curiae Advocate Gaurav Agarwal.
The following are the directions :
Provide necessary infrastructure, books, stationery, printers and other equipments necessary for online classes on the basis of recommendations made by the District Child Care Protection Units(DCPU) within a period of 30 days from today.
State Governments shall ensure that required number of teachers are also made available for teaching the children in various CCIs.
Extra classes, if necessary, should also be taken for the children to help them in preparing for the final examinations to be held next year.
The DCPUs shall inform the District Legal Services Authorities about the progress made in the infrastructure being provided to the CCIs and the functioning of online classes periodically, once in a month.
The DCPUs are also directed to make an assessment of children who have been restored to parents/guardians/foster homes by taking the assistance of other statutory bodies.
The DCPUs are directed to enquire about the financial position of parents/guardians of children and if it is found that children are not being send to school in view of financial difficulty of parents/guardians, recommend to the state to give financial aid to ensure that the children attend schools.
On such recommendation made by the DCPUs, the concerned authorities of the state are directed to release Rs 2000 per month to parents/guardians of children in distress, which shall be used only for the purpose of education of children.
DCPUS are also directed to ascertain the number of children who are restored to the families during the lockdown in a particular geographical locality and organize a guide/teacher for a group of 25 children.
The States have been given liberty to approach the amicus curiae if clarifications are felt needed with respect to the directions.
The Court also mentioned the best practices followed by the States of Telangana, Tripura and Karnataka with respect to education of children in child care homes, as submitted by the amicus. The order noted that the State of Telangana is arranging extra classes for children in CCIs. It also recorded that the State of Tripura is providing Rupees 2160 per month to the parents/guardians in financial distress to cater to the educational needs of children. The State of Karnataka is providing a guide/tutor for every 25 children in a geographical locality who have been restored to their families during the lockdown period, the court stated in the order.
The Court noted in the order that none of the State Governments objected to the suggestions made by the amicus.
The Court also directed the National Council for the Protection of Children Rights to monitor the implementation of the guidelines as per its mandate under Section 109 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2015.
The amicus submitted that before the onset of COVID19 pandemic in March 2020, there were 2,27,518 children in the CCIs. During the lockdown,1,48,788 children were restored to their families. The amicus submitted that with respect to those children who have been restored to their families, there is a need to do a follow up about the fulfillment of their educational needs.
It was on April 3 that the Supreme Court initiated a suo moto case to monitor the conditions of children in CCIs amid the COVID19 pandemic. Since then, the top court has been issuing various directions from time to time to decongest the children homes and to ensure the welfare of the children. The Court has been monitoring the utilization of funds by central and state agencies in this regard. The Court also sought the response of the NCPCR on restoring children to parents/guardians from CCIs.
On December 1, the Court clarified that children should be restored only after following the ascertaining the fitness of parents/guardians as per the procedure under Section 40(3) of the Juvenile Justice Act.