The Supreme Court will monitor the steps taken by the Central and State Governments to address the fundamental rights violations of migrant children and children of migrant workers caused due to the pandemic.
The Central and State governments have made efforts to address the precarious situation of migrant workers during the pandemic. However, no specific reports of plans have been made to understand and address the extent of harm to migrant children, and children of migrant workers. This petition has been filed to seek the intervention of the Supreme Court to rectify this situation.
The petition has been filed by the NGO, Child Rights Trust, and children’s rights advocate and activist, Nina Nayak. They argue that the children of migrant workers , and migrant children were a vulnerable group even before the pandemic. The pandemic has made their vulnerabilities more extreme.
A lack of transit camps, labour colonies and quarantine facilities at state borders has caused migrant children to live in dangerous, informal sites such as railway stations and pavements. Despite increased funding to the mid-day meal programme by the Central Government, migrant children have been facing food insecurity ever since anganwadis and government schools were shut down at the beginning of the pandemic due to mismanaged implementation of schemes. There have been increases in the number of deaths in infants and children due to starvation, malnutrition and tiredness, indicating an alarming deterioration in the healthcare provided to migrant children during the pandemic. The shift to online modes of learning at government schools without plans to provide access to technology to migrant children has resulted in a denial of their right to free education.
Due to the inaction of the government in addressing these problems, the petitioners have argued that the fundamental rights of migrant children guaranteed under Articles 14,19, 21, 21A 39, 45 and 47 are being violated. The petition sets out numerous obligations of the government under international conventions, in addition to constitutional commitments, that make such inaction unlawful.
A bench comprising of CJI S A Bobde, and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian have issued notice to the state governments to inform the court of the number and condition of migrant children.
1. Are the Central and State Governments fulfilling their obligations under the Constitution, national policies and international conventions to protect the rights of migrant children and the children of migrant workers?