Supreme Court seeks Details From States/UTs Of Parents'/Guardians' Financial Stability of Children 'Restored' In Pandemic
The Supreme Court of India (SC) said there is a need for finding out the financial stability of parents/guardians of children who have been restored from Child Care Institutions (CCI) due to Covid-19 pandemic
A bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat directed the State governments to gather information from social welfare departments, and other authorities and provide the same to the Amicus Curiae within 2 weeks.
The SC heard the suo motu case initiated by it in order to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus to child care institutions (CCIs), including children in need of care and protection and children in conflict with the law in observation homes and children in foster and kinship care.
The Bench noted the submissions of Amicus Curiae Gaurav Agarwal, in reference to the affidavit filed by the state of Tamil Nadu, that 9852 families, out of the 33892 families to which the children were restored, are financially unstable.
The Court observed that it had directed State governments to consult district child protection units that provide children with facilities required to provide online classes. The Top Court said, "One district may be identified by each State Government/ Union Territory for establishing Video Conferencing facility for recording evidence of children/ victims of human trafficking. The State Governments are directed to file the Status Reports within four weeks from today."
Justice Rao asked, "If the children have gone to their parents/guardians during COVID, are they being sent back to the CCIs now? In view of the fast-changing scenario asregards the pandemic, what is the present position as regards the children going back to the CCIs?"
Justice Bhatclarified that the restoration was not one contemplated under the Juvenile Justice Act (JJ Act) per se, but children had been sent back to their parents/guardians during the pandemic to avoid the risk of catching infection as they were living in such clusters posed and also due to lockdown, the employees of CCI were also unable to come and cater tothem.
Justice Bhat pointed out, "But now the underlying concern is of why they had been brought to the Child Care Institutions in the first place."
The JJ Act envisages that every child shall have the right to be reunited with his family at the earliest and tobe restored to the same socio-economic and cultural status that he was in, before coming under the purview of this Act.
The SC Bench directed the States and UTs (Union Territories) to furnish the position of children who had been restored to their parents /guardians during the pandemic and who have been sent back to the CCIs.
The Top Court also asked the State Governments and UTs to furnish information relating to the vacancy positions in the Child Welfare Committees and Juvenile Justice Boards in two weeks.