Courts Update Supreme Court expresses concern over the education of children...

Supreme Court expresses concern over the education of children orphaned due to coronavirus, asks states, UTs to get on board at the earliest

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New Delhi Aug 27(ILNS): The Supreme Court, on Thursday, expressed its concerns over the education of children orphaned due to Corona and asked States and UTs to implement welfare measures for the orphaned children at the earliest.

The Bench comprised of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Aniruddha Bose heard the Counsels on behalf of the States and Union Territories and passed a common order for all along with the specific directions to different states as per the requirement.  

The Court has directed that the education of these children is a big issue and the States must have to take some initiative or pass an order to private schools that they should have to waive the fees, if not, the government of Centre and the states should bear the cost of their education.

The Supreme Court has asked ASG Aishwarya Bhati appearing on behalf of the Centre to take instructions on the issue of whether states can seek assistance from the Centre for this year’s fees?

After the hearing, the Supreme Court has asked the state governments to file their affidavits that have not been filed yet. 

After hearing the Counsel for Andhra Pradesh, the Court has directed the District Magistrates in each district of the State to take steps to upload the requisite information of all the 6 stages on the Bal Swaraj Web Portal of the NCPCR. Delay in uploading the info would be detrimental in case of distressed children, it said. 

The Court has further directed the DM’s in the state of Andhra Pradesh to upload the required information for all the stages in respect of all 326 children who have become orphans. And 7110 children who have lost one parent. In so far as the supplementary support being supplied by the state government, the Court has directed the state government to take all necessary measures to protect the interest of those children. The state government will ensure the continuance of the study of the children studying in the private school at least for this academic year, it said. 

Amicus Curiae Gaurav Agarwal told the court that the State of Andhra Pradesh has decided to give ex gratia payment to each child who has become an orphan due to covid. Sanction has been given for 193 children. Out of 326, 240 children have been given benefits. Rs 500 per month has been given to per child those who have lost a single parent as supplementary support. 4342 children have been sanctioned to be given such benefit. Out of 7110, 4342 have been given Rs. 500, he said. 

In respect of the State of Assam, the Court noted that 971 Social Information Report (SIR) have been completed. 105 children have lost both parents. 1049 children lost a single parent. Information relating to the number of inquiries conducted by the child welfare committee has not been provided. In respect of the 971 children, the CWC proceeds to complete the inquiries and pass under section 37 of the Act. 

Further, the Court has directed that the state shall provide the benefits of the scheme that has been announced with immediate effect.

Furthermore, it noted that after completion of the inquiries, the Child Welfare Committees may identify those children who do not need care and protection, and financial assistance. Such of those children need not be given the benefits that are announced by the state government. It is only those children who are in need that are to be provided the assistance given by the state government. 

The Court has directed the State of Bihar to file an affidavit with a status report about the stage of the inquiries conducted by the CWC and the benefits given to the children. 

Amicus was satisfied with the status report of the State of Gujrat and Court found no need to pass any order.

The Court has further directed the State of Haryana and Kerala to consider the extension of the scheme to the children who have become orphan or lost a single parent during Covid in their existing scheme to provide assistance to the children become orphan due to Covid 19.

The Court in its Common Order has directed every State and UT to upload the requisite data on the web portal of NCPCR and take appropriate and effective steps toward the uninterrupted education of the children who have lost their parents or surviving parent not only due to Covid but during Covid also. 

It said, the State can direct private schools to waive the fees of these children and in case of non-compliance, the government ought to have to pay the expenses for the same at least for the present educational year. 

“State must have to prepare the list of the needy children as not every orphan needs financial assistance. So that, the fund may be utilized in the right manner and needier will get benefitted,” it said. 

Previously, on July 27, the Supreme Court had asked all the states and UTs to respond to the steps taken to identify and care for the children who lost their families in Covid. The Supreme Court had said that the state government should tell what steps have been taken for the education of such children. What has been done to pay or waive the fees of the school in which the children are studying?/ILNS/DS/KR/SNG

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