The Desk

COVID Coverage: Children in Protection Homes, November 29th 2021

Nageswar Rao J stated that states cannot let long drawn out bureaucratic processes come in the way of providing basic amenities to children.

COVID Coverage: Children in Protection Homes, November 29th 2021

On November 29th, a two-judge Bench consisting Nageswara Rao and B.R Gavai JJ emphasised the need for state government schemes designed to benefit children who have lost their parents, guardians, or adoptive parents since March 2020. 

Distribution and Monitoring of PM Cares Fund

He sought directions to make the District Magistrate the ‘anchor’ of the scheme. This means that the District Magistrate has to interact personally with the beneficiary children and ensure that their educational and health needs are being catered to. 

He also stated that Schools and District Education officers have a ‘positive obligation’ to identify students who have dropped out, and inquire why this has happened. Only some students (children who lost both their parents to COVID-19) fall under the PM Cares Fund. Other students will need to be monitored by school authorities and state government schemes. 

He also sought directions for 6 states which had not implemented a state scheme to facilitate the basic necessities of children orphaned during the pandemic. 

6 States to Expeditiously Implement State Government Schemes

The Amicus noted that Chhattisgarh has implemented the Mahtari Dulari scheme which sponsors the education of orphaned children. It also provides a monthly stipend. In addition to this, the State wants to expand the beneficiaries of the scheme. This would include adding beneficiaries based on caste. ASG Aishwarya Bhati argued that the inclusion of caste criteria requires further deliberation and approval from the central government. 

Nageswar Rao J emphasised that the main aim of the scheme is to ensure that children’s education is not disrupted. Waiting for approval from the central government on the inclusion of caste criteria will disadvantage students that are already eligible. He directed Chhattisgarh to continue the implementation of the Mahtari Dulari scheme, and expand the beneficiaries when approval was received. 

The Bench directed Haryana to expand the Mukhyamantri Bal Seva Yojna to children who are not eligible for the PM Cares Fund. The Fund only includes children who had lost both parents to COVID-19. The Bench stated that the Mukhyamantri Bal Seva Yojana could include children who lost either parent, after March 2020.

The states of Karnataka, Kerala and West Bengal had not begun implementing a state scheme. The Bench directed the states to file a status report by December 13th. 

Nageswar Rao J stated that states cannot let long drawn bureaucratic processes come in the way of providing basic amenities to children. He urged ASG Bhati to speed up the process of getting state schemes approved by the central government.