Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 9
Taking note of a letter written by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) for restoring children lodged in care homes to their families, the Supreme Court on Friday asked the child rights body to spell out its stand on the issue.
A three-judge Bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao also asked Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the Centre, to take instructions in the issue and posted it for further hearing on October 24.
The top court issued notice to NCPCR after amicus curiae advocate Gaurav Agrawal drew the court’s attention to the letter and said the child rights body shouldn’t have done it as COVID19 situation was still bad.
The top court had earlier taken suo motu cognizance of the condition of children in protection, juvenile and foster homes across India during the pandemic and had issued necessary directions to state authorities for their protection and asked the Centre to furnish details of funds disbursed to states/union territories for running Child Care Institutions (CCIs).
The NCPCR had on September 24 issued a letter to Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Mizoram, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra and Meghalaya, stating that it is the right of every child to grow up in a familial environment. The decision was taken keeping in view the alarming concerns over the safety and security of children residing in these institutions, it said.
These eight states have 1.84 lakh (or nearly 72 per cent) children in child care homes out of a total of 2.56 lakh in the country. The child rights body had directed the district magistrates and collectors of these states to ensure that the children living in these care homes return to their families, preferably within a 100-day period. Those who could not be sent back to their families must be placed for adoption or in foster homes, it had said.
The maximum number of children in need of care and protection placed in these homes were in five southern states, “which paints an unsettling picture indicating a pitiable condition of children in these CCIs,” the letter stated.