14 Dec 2021 3:26 AM GMT
On Monday, in a suo moto matter regarding the plight of the Children in Street Situation ("CiSS") across the country, the Supreme Court directed the State Governments and the Union Territories to complete the identification process without any delay. The Apex Court clarified that the State Governments and the Union Territories need not wait for any further direction from National...
On Monday, in a suo moto matter regarding the plight of the Children in Street Situation ("CiSS") across the country, the Supreme Court directed the State Governments and the Union Territories to complete the identification process without any delay. The Apex Court clarified that the State Governments and the Union Territories need not wait for any further direction from National Commission for Protection of Child Rights ("NCPCR") or from the Court to proceed to the subsequent stages set out in the SOP 2.0 developed by the NCPCR, once the Children to be rescued and rehabilitated are identified.
On a perusal of the affidavit filed by the NCPCR, the bench comprising Justice L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai expressed its concern that the number of children identified by the States appeared to be quite low and even the process of identification, which is the first stage of the process of rehabilitation has not yet been completed.
Issue of Children in Street Situation
At the outset, on the request of the Amicus Curiae, Mr. Gaurav Agarwal, the Bench took up the affidavit filed by NCPCR and enquired about its status. Additional Solicitor General, Mr. Nataraj apprised the Court that some States have sought more time to file their affidavits.
Pointing out from NCPCR's affidavit, that the numbers reflected seem to be quite low, the Bench stated -
"As we have seen from your affidavit, the numbers that are shown on the basis of the information uploaded on the website appear to be very less,only 3655. We were told there are 70-80 thousand children on streets in Delhi alone. There must be lakhs. The reporting seems to be incomplete. You have given stages at pg. 6. Stage I pertains to identification, which is the most important stage…dWe are still stuck at stage one, with the number being very less…Can you send them (States) a reminder…They should not delay this matter…You are dealing with children. The faster, the better…We saw some scheme, which is placed on record by the Delhi Govt. If the NCPCR can also on the basis of this and other aspects be taken into account, if you can come up with some comprehensive scheme…Amicus, we will list it after vacation.In the meanwhile let's see what the State Governments are doing…"
Mr. Agarwal proposed NCPCR can set out uniform guidelines that can be adopted by the States for rescue and rehabilitation of the Children in Street Situation.
"What strategies the States will adopt for second and third categories also NCPCR can guide."
Advocate Shobha Gupta, appearing on behalf of WWI submitted that a parallel process for adoption can also be initiated -
"Qua this particular exercise when your lordships are directing w.r.t. Collection of data of children who are found on streets…The initial data was undertaken with respect to children who were orphans or abandoned or surrendered. This is w.r.t. Children on the street.. With my lord's order there is sufficient information on the portal…If they side by side start doing the further exercise required under the Juvenile Justice Act…Relegating them for the purpose of adoption. Now we have enough data on the portal…We have number of parents waiting in the list who are registered and can give them shelter and home…We can achieve that if parallel exercise is undertaken."
The Bench noted, "In their website they have indicated 6 stages and now we are talking about 3,4, and 5. We will ask them to simultaneously take these steps also."
A further observation was made by the Bench, that the issue of adoption might not be relevant for the children in street situations -
"This can be only in respect of abandoned children and children who are orphans or have no parents. We see that most of the children who are identified or half of them are children on the streets in the daytime and go back in the evenings to their parents. So, this adoption might not be relevant for them. We will have to find a way to remove them from the streets and provide them with facilities…We will have to look at those schemes."
Ms. Gupta pointed out that they might be eligible for the category of surrendered children and can avail the benefits of foster care and sponsorship.
"The Act refers to 4 categories of children. Orphan, abandoned, surrendered. So, surrendered may be where parents and family are there, but not able to take care. Institutionalisation to the extent of providing foster care..or sponsorship."
The Bench noted -
"We will go into these details on the next occasion. Let more information come…We will take up this matter in detail, we will list this in the second week of January."
Hearing the concerned parties, the Bench dictated the order -
"Pursuant to the order passed on 15.11.2021, an affidavit has been filed on behalf of NCPCR bringing it to the notice of this court that the commission conducted meetings with the concerned authorities for implementation of SOP 2.0.. On 02.12.2012, 03.12.2021 and 06.12.2021, 28 states/UTs have participated in meetings and provided info for identification of children in street situations. Data provided by State Gov with respect to rehabilitation of children in street situations have been placed on record. Looking at the number of children in street situation who have been identified it appears that the process of identification is at a slow pace. It was brought to the notice of this court ….on 15.11.2021 that 'Save the children' mapped 2 lakh children in 10 districts in the States of UP, Maharashtra, WB and Delhi. There might be lakhs of children in street situations in remaining parts of the country who need to be rescued and rehabilitated. Stage I in Bal Swaraj CiSS portal related to identification of children. As stage I is crucial, State/UTs are directed to take immediate action to identify children in street situations without any delay. The required info shall be uploaded on the web portal of NCPCR…The concerned authorities in State and UT need not wait for any further direction from NCPCR or directions of this court for proceedings with collecting the social background…, identification of benefits…, enquiries to be conducted by the chaired welfare committees under JJ Act, 2015, linking the scheme/benefits with the children or families/guardians.
NCPCR is directed to file a status report of the information received from the State Gov/UTs on Bal Swaraj CiSS portal within a period of 4 weeks from today. In the meanwhile the DMs shall upload relevant info., not restricted to stage I… the State Govt. and UT to file a status report on rescuing and rehabilitation of children in street situations in 3 weeks from today...List this matter (2nd and 3rd week) in Jan."
The Bench added -
"We will have this also on the 17th."
NCPCR has filed affidavits with respect to the Children in Street situation - one in compliance with order dated 26.10.2021 and the other with order dated 15.11.2021.
In the affidavit filed by NCPCR in compliance with the Court's order dated 26.10.2021, it had stated -
1. Identification of issues and challenges faced by children in streets
2. Recognising and categorising CiSS
3. Categorisation of Children for Appropriate Intervention
4. Process and Procedure to be followed by authorities for ensuring care and protection to CiSS as well as defining the role of each authority while dealing with the CiSS.
5. This SOP 2.0 is a mere collation of all legal frameworks and procedures for implementation of all the States and UTs.
1. Children without support living on the street alone.
2. Children stay on the streets in the day and are back home in the night with their families who reside in a nearby slum/hutments
3. Children living in the streets with their families.
Stage 1: for information relating to identification of child.
Stage 2: for uploading information for knowing the social background of the child.
Stage 3: identification of benefits and recommendations under the Individual Care Plan (ICP) of the child are to get uploaded
Stage 4: the order of the Child Welfare Committee is to be uploaded.
Stage 5: has the name of schemes/benefits, which can be linked with the child or the family or the guardian.
Stage 6: a checklist for the follow up of the child is given as per the three categories of the child identified in the SOP 2.0.
In the affidavit filed by NCPCR pursuant to the order of 15.11.2021, it has pointed out -
[Case: In Re Children in Street Situations Suo Moto Writ (C) No.6/2020]
Click Here To Read/Download Order