Ensure uninterrupted education, financial aid to children who lost parents during pandemic: SC to states – Times of India

NEW DELHI: As thousands of children lost either both or one of their parents during Covid pandemic and many are facing bleak future, the Supreme Court has passed a slew of directions to provide them a helping hand including directing the states and Union Territories to ensure that there is no break in their schooling and bear their cost of education.
Taking note that National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has received many complaints regarding illegal adoption of such orphaned children, a bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose directed the states and the police to swing into action and take stringent action those individuals and NGOs indulging in such activities. It also ordered the states to track all such children who are in distress and grant them financial assistance including payment of Rs 2,000 per month under Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS).
The court said that states needed to get into action with relief and financial assistance as the Centre has not finalised modalities and mechanism to come to the rescue of such children under PM cares Fund and sought four weeks time to finalise it. The bench passed the order after accepting the suggestion of advocate Gaurav Agrawal who is assisting the court as amicus curiae.
“If the affected children are studying in government schools they should be permitted to continue. In so far as the children who are studying in private schools, the state governments/Union Territories should take steps and direct the continuance of the children in those schools at least for a period of six months by which time some arrangement can be worked out… The state government/UTs should ensure that there is no break in the education of children who have become orphans or lost either one parent during the pandemic,” the bench said.
It directed that wide publicity be given to the provisions of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act and the prevailing welfare schemes of the Centre and the states for the children so that teh needy could approach the authority to avail the benefits.
“After the identification of the children who have become orphans or lost one parent, prompt action has to be taken to provide the basic needs of the children. The District Child Protection Officers (DCPO) should act swiftly to contact the child on receipt of information about the loss of the parent/parents of the child. The officer shall ensure that adequate provision is made for the ration, food, medicines, clothing, etc. to the child. The state governments have announced certain financial benefits to the affected children which have to be provided to them immediately,” the bench said.
As per NCPCR report, 3632 children have become orphans and 26176 lost one parent from April 1 last year to June 5 this year. It said that around 274 children were abandoned in the last one year and the majority of the affected children, which is around 20,000 out of 30,000, belonged to 0-13 age group. As per the report, the largest number of such children are from Maharashtra, followed by Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.

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