NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Tuesday asked the Uttar Pradesh government to file a status report on news articles that 57 minor girls of Kanpur-based shelter home have tested positive for COVID-19 recently.
The top court has taken suo motu (on its own) cognizance of the condition of children in protection -- be it juvenile, foster or kinship homes across the country -- amid the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic and has sought compliance reports from the states on the directions issued by it on April 3 to ensure protection of the children.
Recently, lawyer Aparna Bhat moved a plea seeking proper medical treatment and facilities to 57 minor girls, who have tested positive for COVID-19 in a Kanpur-based shelter home in Uttar Pradesh.
During the hearing, conducted via video conferencing, the apex court was also apprised by Tamil Nadu''s counsel that 35 COVID-19 positive children of a government-run shelter home at Royapurum in Chennai have now recovered and are back to the facility.
A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao, Krishna Murari and S Ravindra Bhat appointed advocate Gaurav Agarwal as the amicus curiae to assist it and directed states like UP, Uttarakhand and Odisha to file their responses to the amicus by Friday and listed the case for hearing on July 13.
"Except the states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Odisha, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Tripura and Manipur, all the other states have filed their response pursuant to the order passed by us on June 11," the bench said in its order.
"The Advocates on Record (AoR) for all the States are directed to supply a copy of the response filed by them to the learned Amicus Curiae within two days. The Advocates on Record are permitted to serve copies of the report in digital form as well. List on July 13," the order said.
On April 3, the top court had issued directions to all the state governments and various other authorities to protect children in protection.
It had also said that as the pandemic intensifies, it is important that urgent measures are taken on a priority basis to prevent the spread of the virus in child care institutions (CCIs), children in need of care and protection (CNCP), children in contact with the law (CICWL) in observation homes and children in foster and kinship.
It said the juvenile justice boards (JJBs) should consider steps to release all children alleged to be in conflict with law residing in observation homes on bail, unless there are clear and valid reasons not to do so.
The top court had issued slew of directions for the child welfare committee (CWCs) across the country and said they would monitor cases telephonically for the children sent back to their families and coordinate through the district child protection committees and foster care and adoption committees for those in foster care.
The top court had directed the JJBs and children's courts "to pro-actively consider whether a child or children should be kept in CCIs, considering the best interest, health and safety concerns".
It had said video-conferences or online sittings can be held to prevent contact for speedy disposal of cases and the JJBs should ensure that counselling services are provided for all children in observation homes.
The top court had directed that all state governments shall circulate information to the CCIs about how to deal with COVID-19 immediately, with instructions that awareness about it is spread in a timely and effective manner.
It had asked the states to stay prepared for a disaster or emergency situation that may arise and start developing a system as regards how to organise trained volunteers who could step in to care for children.
Later, after the report of COVID-positive 35 children came from Chennai, the top court sought a status report from the Tamil Nadu government including steps taken to protect the remaining children.
The bench had sought a status report from different state governments on steps taken to protect children in shelter homes amid the pandemic.