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SC directs states to provide immediate relief to children orphaned by COVID

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SC directs states to provide immediate relief to children orphaned by COVID
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday took note of children who have become orphans due to the COVID-19 pandemic and directed district authorities in various states to upload the information of such orphaned children since the beginning of the pandemic.

The top court also urged the authorities to immediately take charge of such children and attend to their basic needs without waiting for any further orders from the Court.

A bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose directed the authorities to update their information on the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) by today evening.

The bench also said that the state governments must inform it of the position of these children and the steps they have taken to provide them immediate relief.

The bench was hearing, suo moto, a case relating to Covid infection in child protection homes. Earlier, too, it had passed a series of orders on the matter.

Advocate Gaurav Agarwal, amicus curiae in the matter, had filed this interlocutory application seeking directions in respect of children who are adversely affected due to the current Covid pandemic by losing either one or both the parents and the increased instances of child trafficking, especially of the girl child.

The application added that the cataclysmic Covid-19 pandemic devastated vulnerable sections of society.

The bench said it has been brought to its notice by the amicus that there are a number of children who have become orphans due to the demise of either the breadwinner of the family or both their parents.

"The amicus curiae expressed his concern about the well-being of such children. The Union of India has already issued instructions to the concerned authorities regarding the steps to be taken for the protection of children who have lost their parents due to Covid-19," noted the bench.

It said the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 make it clear that there is an obligation on the part of the authorities to take care of children in need.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati and counsel appearing for the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) submitted that portal 'Bal Swaraj' is operational and all the concerned district authorities have been given access, along with instructions to upload the information pertaining to the identification of children who have become orphans during the pandemic.

At this, the court said: "We are of the view that Additional Solicitor General appearing for Union of India and the counsel appearing for the state governments should furnish the latest information about the identification of children who have become orphans post-March, 2020, whether it be due to the pandemic or otherwise, and steps taken for attending to their basic needs."

The top court asked the amicus curiae to prepare a note after receipt of the information from the Centre, the NCPCR and the state governments and circulate it to them by Monday evening, as it hears a matter in connection with the spread of Covid-19 in children protection homes.

The bench has posted the matter for further hearing on June 1.

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TAGS:supreme court Covid19 updates 
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