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.
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 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 headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao appointed advocate Gaurav Aggarwal as the amicus curiae and asked all the remaining states to file their responses with Aggarwal by Friday and kept the case for hearing on July 13.
The court noted that UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Tripura have not filed their replies to the notices issued in the case.
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.
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.