Tribune News Service
New Delhi, June 8
The Supreme Court has ordered the states and union territories to ensure that there is no break in the education of children who have become orphans or lost either one parent during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The State Governments/Union Territories are directed to make provisions for continuance of education of the children both in Government as well as in private schools,” a Bench led by Justice LN Rao said.
“The other issues…relating to the protection of property rights of the children, further education of the children including employment opportunities, special care to be taken in respect of the girl child will be taken up on the next date of hearing,” it said.
“The State Governments/Union Territories are directed to take action against those NGOs/individuals who are indulging in illegal adoptions,” the top court ordered.
It also directed the states and union territories “to prevent any NGO from collecting funds in the names of the affected children by disclosing their identity and inviting interested persons to adopt them. No adoption of affected children should be permitted contrary to the provisions of the JJ Act, 2015.”
The order came after Additional Solicitor General KM Natraj pointed out on behalf of the National Commission of Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) that certain NGOs were collecting funds in the names of the affected children and that their identity was being disclosed in public announcements by certain unscrupulous agencies and individuals who were inviting interested persons to adopt such orphaned children.
“Invitation to persons for adoption of orphans is contrary to law as no adoption of a child can be permitted without the involvement of CARA. Stringent action shall be taken by the State Governments/Union Territories against agencies/individuals who are responsible for indulging in this illegal activity,” it ordered.
The top court—which had earlier taken up suo motu cognizance of the spread of Covid-19 in children homes—is seized of an application filed by amicus curiae Gaurav Agrawal seeking identification of orphaned children due to Covid-19 or otherwise and providing them immediate relief.
The court directed Agrawal to contact the nodal officers to be appointed by the states of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Assam, Uttarakhand, NCT of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and UT of Jammu and Kashmir to obtain the information relating to welfare of children in a dolorous state due to loss of their parent/parents and submit a report by July 27, the next date of hearing.
“The State Governments/Union Territories are directed to give wide publicity not only to the provisions of the JJ Act, 2015 but also to the several schemes that have been announced by the Central Government and the State Governments/Union Territories benefiting the children who have become orphans and children in need of care and protection,” it said.
The NCPCR had earlier told the court that data of 9,346 affected children have been uploaded on Bal Swaraj portal. This includes 1,742 children who lost both parents, 7,464 now in a single-parent household, 140 have been abandoned between March 2020 and May 29, 2021.
The court had on Monday given more time to the Centre work out the modalities for implementation of the recently launched ‘PM-CARES for Children’ scheme for those orphaned by Covid-19.