DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notices to the Centre and states on a PIL seeking a direction to the Central Government to give orphans the same benefits enjoyed by children of minority communities and BPL categories.
The PIL also demanded that a census of orphans be done.
A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R Banumathi asked the Centre to reply to the PIL that has also sought provision of other benefits to orphans, including bank loans and incentives for setting up business.
The PIL also demanded at least one orphanage in every district. States like Jharkhand do not have an orphanage in 21 out of its 23 districts, it pointed out.
The petition sought reservation in educational institutions and government jobs for orphans on a par with children belonging to the SC/ST and OBC categories.
The petition, filed by Uttar Pradesh resident Poulomi Pavini Shukla, has claimed that orphans, whose antecedents are unknown, are unjustly and forcibly given a religion and a caste by the government, much to their detriment.
The plea said the state would have to assume the role of a parent to the orphans.
“Issue a direction to the government to have a policy for assigning religion to orphans and ensure that orphan children are given the right to choose their religion upon attaining majority and are not under duress of any kind to choose a specific religion,” the PIL stated.
It also sought a comprehensive census or sample survey of children in need of care and protection, saying this was essential to fix the numbers and targets and outlays in government schemes as well as outline the extent of the problem.
The plea said the state was bound to provide adequate measures for the survival, growth and empowerment of orphans so they can compete on an equal footing with other children.
The petition also demanded that the government should announce an orphans’ day on January 1 and earmark 1% of MPLADS and MLALADS funds for their welfare.