Social Auditing u/s. 36 JJ Act To Be Completed At The Earliest; No Child To Drop Out For Want Of Financial Assistance: Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court today in a suo motu writ petition on the Protection of Children in Child Care Homes, passed a slew of directions to various states in light of facts brought to the fore by an affidavit submitted. 

A division bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Aniruddha Bose, while hearing the matter today passed distinct orders with respect to the States of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Gujarat. Appreciating the status in Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura – no orders were passed for them.

Following were the major directions issued by the Court:

1. Social Auditing under Section 36 of the JJ Act, 2015 – to be completed at the earliest,

2. District Magistrates to upload the details on Bal Swaraj Portal, under the stages mentioned by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights – at the earliest,

3. State Governments to consider extension of benefit of schemes rolled out for children who lost their parent/s due to Covid-19 to all children who lost their parent/s during the Covid-19 pandemic,

4. State Governments to engage in a dialogue with the private schools – for fee waive off. In case the school is not willing to, the State shall bear the expense. For the 2600 children registered under the PM CARES Scheme, liberty shall vest with the State Govt to seek assistance from the Union,

5. State Governments to submit status report within 3 weeks on aforementioned pt. 1 & 2 and implementation of state schemes.

“In case of necessity, the fee and other needs of children under 2600 which have been registered under the PM CARES Scheme, shall be undertaken by the Government of India," the court said.

By order dated Jul 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 Child Welfare Committees.

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

Brief Background

The matter originates from a suo motu 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 Apr 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 Jun 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 Jun 1, 2021, directions were issued to the Centre for devising a mechanism to identify beneficiaries under recently launched PM Cares for Covid-19 affected Children.

In 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.

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