1 Dec 2020 8:27 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed that restoration of children from children homes to parents/guardians only after individual assessment under Section 40(3) of the Juvenile Justice Act 2015.As per Section 40(3), suitability and fitness of the parents/guardians have to be ascertained by the Child Welfare Committee before restoring children to them. A Bench headed by Justice L....
The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed that restoration of children from children homes to parents/guardians only after individual assessment under Section 40(3) of the Juvenile Justice Act 2015.
As per Section 40(3), suitability and fitness of the parents/guardians have to be ascertained by the Child Welfare Committee before restoring children to them.
A Bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao recorded Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta's submission that the directions issued by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights for general restoration of children had been set aside by the Order of the Joint Secretary to the Government of India. In today's hearing, the SG informed the Court that the Affidavit wherein it was stated that the recommendations of the NCPCR was intended to check the conditions of individual children and that the same was not mandatory. "The children must be produced before the Child Welfare Committee to explore further welfare needs. They will not be sent without assessment. It's not an en masse repatriation. The earlier stand was that the children could not be permanently housed in the homes", stated the SG. Justice Rao then noted that the only apprehension the Court had was that there was a general direction pertaining to all children being sent home. "Now that you've clarified this issue in clear terms that the Commission will follow Section 40(3) scrupulously, then we can close this issue", said Justice Rao. Accordingly, the Bench passed an Order that in view of the submissions made by the Solicitor-General, the repatriation of children shall be made after following the provisions of the JJ Act. In the previous hearing, Justice Rao had observed that a general direction could not be given as there were multiple aspects which had to be addressed, for instance, seeking permission of the parents, checking on education, health etc. The NCPCR on September 24 issued letters to the district authorities in eight states, setting off a process to restore children lodged in Children Care Institutions back to their families after a review by the Child Welfare Committees.
Many civil society organisations had called for the withdrawal of the letter and had stated that it was against the purpose, principles and spirit of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
On April 2, a Division Bench comprising of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta had taken suo moto cognizance of conditions of children protection homes across the country in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Directions had been issued to State Governments and various other authorities to protect them.
The Court had also issued detailed directions to Child Welfare Committees, Juvenile Justice Boards and Children Courts, CCIs and the State Governments to prevent the spread of the virus amongst children.
Click here to read/download the order