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SC asks states to identify and rehabilitate children in street situations, adversely hit by Covid-19, without further delay

Additional Solicitor General K M Nataraj, appearing for NCPCR, submitted that many states have not uploaded the details of children in street situations on the Bal Swaraj Portal.

Published: 17th January 2022 06:02 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th January 2022 06:03 PM   |  A+A-

street children, Child

Representational Image

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Monday directed all the District Magistrates to involve Special Juvenile Police Units (SJPUs), District Legal Service Authority (DLSA), and voluntary organisations in the identification and rehabilitation of children in street situations, adversely hit by COVID-19 pandemic, without any further delay.

A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and B V Nagarathna said the problem for these children in street situations would be in an aggravated form in winters and immediate steps should be taken by the states and Union Territories (UTs) to shift them to shelter homes.

"As the implementation of directions issued by this court on earlier occasions relating to identification and rehabilitation does not brook further delay, we direct all DMs to involve DLSA and voluntary organisations in the identification of children on streets without any further delay. The DMs are also directed to upload the information at all stages on the web portal of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) / (Baal Swaraj)," the bench said.

The top court, hearing a suo motu case about the children who are adversely affected by the pandemic by losing either one or both the parents, also directed the states with the guidance of NCPCR to formulate a policy for rehabilitation after they have been identified and asked them to file a status report within three weeks. It also directed the states and UTs to instruct concerned authorities not to delay the identification and rehabilitation of children.

At the outset, Additional Solicitor General K M Nataraj, appearing for NCPCR, submitted that many states have not uploaded the details of children in street situations on the Bal Swaraj Portal.

Concerning Delhi, the apex court noted that while earlier 70,000 children were identified, the AAP government has now said that it has identified only 428 children. "This is not a normal case.
The problem would be in an aggravated form for these children in street situations. There are children who don't have anybody to take care of them. The condition of children would become worse in northern parts of the country. "Just imagine how they are surviving on the streets. You have to immediately shift them to 'rain basera', shelter homes. This is your duty. We need not tell you to keep doing this and that. Act immediately. This one month is very difficult. Let them be removed to a shelter home immediately," the bench said.

The apex court also expressed displeasure over the submission of states that the slow pace in identification of children in street situations is due to Covid.

"We are not running away from reality and we know that the country is in the third surge of Covid and members of the executive might be busy in trying to control the situation but children also cannot be ignored.  Covid cannot be an excuse in this case," the bench said.

Additional Advocate General (AAG) for Uttar Pradesh Garima Prashad informed the top court that about 30,282 children were identified in the state in five districts by NGOs.

She contended that the state government is attempting to reach out to those children and several teams have been sent out to look for such children.

The amicus curiae submitted that there is no information provided by states and UTs regarding steps taken for rehabilitation of children who have not been identified and asserted that it is imminent that states decide this.

The matter will now be heard after four weeks.

The apex court had earlier said the process of identifying children in street situations, adversely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, is at a very slow pace and directed the states and union territories (UTs) to take immediate steps to identify such children and rehabilitate them without waiting for its directions.

Earlier, the bench had directed all the District Magistrates states and UTs to take steps for the care and protection of children in street situations prepared by the NCPCR in 2020.

It was also brought to the court's notice that there are about 70,000 children in the streets of Delhi alone.



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