"Delay in uploading info will be detrimental to distressed children": Supreme Court directs Andhra Pradesh Government to expedite Bal Swaraj Portal exercise

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The Supreme Court today, while hearing Suo Motu Writ Petition concerning extension of Government benefits to Children who lost their parents during/due to COVID 19, directed the Andhra Pradesh Government to expedite the process of uploading details on Bal Swaraj Portal and act in cohesion with District Education Officers, to ensure that education of such children is not disrupted at least for this academic year.

A Division Bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Aniruddha Bose, while pronouncing orders, said,

“Delay in uploading the information would be detrimental to the interests of distressed Children - We direct the DMs in the State of AP to upload the required information for all 6 stages - for all 326 orphan Children as well as who have lost on parent at the earliest. The State Government is further directed to act in cohesion with the CWCs and District Education Officers, in having a dialogue with the Private schools, in which the children in need are studying and ensure that education of these children are not disrupted. This can be done by asking the institution to either waive the fees or the State Govt. bearing the burden of part fees. In any event the State Government shall ensure that the students continue in the pvt. schools where they are studying, for at least this academic year.” (Court order as pronounced in Court)

Mr. Mahfooz Nazki, Counsel for the State of AP, submitted that the enquiries have been completed with respect to a majority of children and suitable steps would be taken by the District Magistrates to upload the requisite information, at the earliest.

By Order dated July 27, information was sought from all State/UTs regarding the identification of Children who have lost both or either parent after March, 2020 and the stage of enquiry before the CWCs.

Information was also sought related to schemes announced by the State and implementation of the same.

Brief Background

The matter originates from a Suo Moto Writ taken up last year in the wake of emerging cases of COVID 19 throughout the country, and the effect of it over children in Child care/foster homes.

Comprehensive guidelines were issued by the Court by order dated April 30, 2020, on the following fronts, namely;

  1. Measures to be taken by the Juvenile Justice Boards and Children Courts
  2. Measures to be taken by the Governments
  3. Directions to the Child Care Institutions (CCIs)
  4. Preventive Measures for the CCIs
  5. Responsive Measures for the CCIs
  6. Measures for Children under Foster Homes and Kinship Care
  7. Guidance on Measures to ensure well-being of Children

On June 7, 2021 A Division bench of Justice LN Rao and Justice Aniruddha Bose had inter-alia issued directions to the State Governments/UTs to continue identifying the children who have become orphan or lost a parent after March, 2020 either due to Covid-19 or otherwise, and provide data on the website of the NCPCR without any delay.

On June 1, 2021, directions were issued to the Centre for devising a mechanism to identify beneficiaries under recently launched PM Cares for COVID affected Children.

Last year December, Supreme Court had directed the State Governments/UTs to consult District Child Protection Units and provide necessary infrastructure, stationery, books and other facilities required for online classes to the children in Child Care Institutions.

Also Read: 'Schemes exist on paper but we need to realise them": Supreme Court issues directions in suo motu case concerning protection of children in Child Care Institutions amid pandemic

Also Read: Data On Bal Swaraj Portal Includes All Children Who Lost Their Parent Due To COVID Or Otherwise From The Period Commencing April 2020: NCPCR Tells Supreme Court

Case Title: In Re Contagion of COVID 19 Virus In Children Protection Homes | SMW No. 4 of 2020