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Supreme Court Seeks Responses From NCPCR & States To Ensure Education Of Children Who Had To Drop Out Of Schools Due To COVID-19 Effects

Sohini Chowdhury
3 May 2022 4:14 AM GMT
Supreme Court Seeks Responses From NCPCR & States To Ensure Education Of Children Who Had To Drop Out Of Schools Due To COVID-19 Effects
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The Supreme Court, on Monday, directed the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to submit a response to the suggestions made by the Amicus Curiae with respect to the children who have dropped out of schools because of the adverse effects of the pandemic, though they might not have not lost their parents to COVID-19. The Apex Court also sought the response of the...

The Supreme Court, on Monday, directed the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to submit a response to the suggestions made by the Amicus Curiae with respect to the children who have dropped out of schools because of the adverse effects of the pandemic, though they might not have not lost their parents to COVID-19. The Apex Court also sought the response of the State Governments regarding their course of action to ensure that the education of such children can continue without any further hindrance.

"NCPCR is directed to ponder over the suggestion made by the Ld. Amicus and submit its suggestions by the next date of hearing. The State Governments/Union Territories are also directed to submit their response as to the course of action they would take to ensure the students who have dropped out because of adverse effects of COVID-19 pandemic would continue schools."

Amicus Curiae, Mr. Gaurav Agarwal apprised the Bench that it had on several occasions passed orders to ensure that the education of children who have lost either or both parents is not disrupted. Accordingly, the data pertaining to these children are now reflected in the Baal Swaraj Portal.

Mr. Agarwal proposed that similar orders can be passed for children who might not have lost their parents to COVID-19, but have been indirectly affected by the pandemic. Some children were constrained to drop out as their parents/guardians lost their livelihood and some children stopped going to school in order to help out their parents/guardians at home. As the name of these children are not reflected in the Baal Swaraj portal, he suggested that the Education Department of the concerned State can look into the cases of such drop-outs, especially the ones pertains to the children in the age group of 6 to 14 years as their right to free and compulsory education is a fundamental right explicitly guaranteed under Article 21A of the Constitution.

A Bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and B.R. Gavai took note of the fact that there are a large number of children who had to discontinue education due to dislocation of their parents; loss of livelihood of parents/guardians.

Justice Rao reckoned, "He is right, at the ground level. Parents might be alive but because of what happened in the last 2 years they would not be in a position to send children to school. Education being fundamental right, why cannot the State come to their rescue."

He asked Additional Solicitor General, Mr. K.M. Nataraj appearing for the NCPCR, for his suggestions.

"You are the authority who coordinates with the States. You can also tell them. You confer with the authorities. The Counsel for States can also take note of these suggestions", Justice Rao opined.

[Case Title: In Re: Children in Street Situations SMW(C) 6 of 2021 and In Re Children in Need of Care and Protection Due to Loss of Parents During COVID-19 SMW(C) 4 of 2020]

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