New Delhi: The Supreme Court directed state governments to notify it on the data pertaining to the numbers of migrant children as well as their condition, on hearing a petition seeking protection of fundamental rights of children in the backdrop of the ongoing Covid-19 situation, on Tuesday.
A three judge bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde have asked all state governments, which have been party in the case, to submit their response as soon as possible.
The court was hearing a petition filed on behalf of Child Rights Trust, which sought for enforcement of the fundamental rights of migrant children and children of migrant families under Articles 14, 15, 19, 21, 21A, 39 and 47 of the Constitution during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After a brief hearing in the matter, the bench also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, gave two weeks to the state governments to file their replies.
Senior advocate Jayna Kothari appeared for the petitioners.
Earlier on March 8, the supreme court had agreed to hear the plea by Child Rights Trust and a resident of Bengaluru and issued notice.
"Application for impleadment is allowed. Issue notice to the newly added party respondents returnable two weeks. As prayed for, the petitioner is allowed to take steps to serve the Standing Counsel of the States/UTs in the meantime." The top court said.
The plea, filed through advocate Rukhsana Choudhury, argued that though children of migrants and migrating children remain invisible, they are the most vulnerable section and are denied access to healthcare and proper nutrition. They are also put up in unhygienic and testing conditions.
"Migrant children affected due to Covid-19 are still working in brick kilns, stone crusher units, construction sites, rice mills, plantations and other sectors where children as young as 5 years lend a hand to help their parents earn their daily sustenance", said the plea.
Citing that lockdown had resulted in tremendous hardship for migrant children and till date there has been no assessment of the exact numbers of migrant children, infants, and pregnant or lactating migrant women, the counsel for the petitioners had requested the court to issue directions on prayers regarding sharing data on out of school migrant children and a plan to provide their temporary education to get back when schools reopen.