NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court of India, the country’s apex court, on Aug. 26 stressed the need to support the children who have lost their parents during the Covid-19 pandemic and said education of such minors should continue without any disruption in the current academic year.
A Bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Aniruddha Bose said that there is an immediate need to make payments for these children who are studying in private schools.
The bench ordered the district magistrates to complete the approval process of applications for children registered under the “PM-CARES for Children” scheme so that those who have lost their parents or legal guardian due to the Covid-19 could get the benefit.
During the hearing, the Central government informed the bench that a separate portal had been created for the scheme as of Aug. 21. 2,600 children have been registered on the portal by 30 states and Union Territories.
Out of these 418 applications have been approved by the district magistrates, the central government said.
The apex court further said that the fee and other expenditure of these 2600 children shall be undertaken by the Centre in case of necessity.
“The state governments shall have a dialogue with the private schools to waive the fee for these students for the current academic year,” the bench said.
“In case the schools are not willing to waive the fee, the state government shall bear the burden of the fee.”
It further said that it is open to the states to request the Centre to bear the fee and other expenses of these children studying in private schools for the current academic year.
The Central government told the top court that children’s education till 18 years is a part of the PM-CARES scheme for support and empowerment of pandemic-affected children.
The apex court was hearing suo-motto matter on care and protection of children who have become orphans or have lost one parent or abandoned during the pandemic.
The statements from the bench came after the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights told the court that over one lakh children had lost either one or both parents in the Covid-19 pandemic year.
The child rights body said that 8,161 children became orphans, and 92,475 lost one parent since March 2020.
The Indian government had recently launched a portal, “Baal Swaraj,” for the child in need of care and protection under section 109 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and given the growing problem related to children affected by Covid-19.
“This portal of the Commission has been created with a purpose for online tracking and digital real-time monitoring mechanism of children who are in need of care and protection,” the government said in a press release.
“The Commission has extended the use of this portal for tracking children who have lost both their parents or either of the parent during Covid-19 and provided a link under the name of “Covid-Care” for uploading of data of such children by the concerned officer/department on the portal.”
(With inputs from ANI)
Edited by Saptak Datta and Praveen Pramod Tewari
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