The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) during the course of the suo moto case on conditions of children protection homes across the country in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao heard the submissions of amicus curiae Gaurav Agrawal and noted that a letter had been issued by the NCPCR which recommended for the restoration of children lodged in children protection homes in eight states back to their families. Justice Rao 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. At this juncture, Justice Rao asked Additional-Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati on her views and she agreed, while noting that repatriation should take place on a case-to-case basis. The ASG was then directed to seek instructions on whether such general instructions could be given by the body. Accordingly, the Bench issued notice to NCPCR. A response is to be filed by the Commission. 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 have called for the withdrawal of the letter and have stated that it is 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.