COVID Coverage: Children in Street Situations, May 19th 2022

Maharashtra Government asks for Union government funding to build 20 new Child Protection Homes.

On May 19th 2022, Justices Nageswara Rao and B.R. Gavai continued hearing the suo moto case concerning the identification, rescue, and rehabilitation of children living in street situations (CISS) . 

The Supreme Court first began to engage with the concerns of trafficked children in an earlier suo moto case instituted in 2021. It had then attempted to ensure that children in protection homes were treated in accordance with the safeguards established by the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. Soon, the Court extended its concern to CISS who had not yet been rehabilitated into child protection homes. Through successive Orders, the Bench, assisted by Amicus Curiae Mr. Gaurav Aggarwal, has guided State governments with a systematic method of identifying and keeping track of CISS. 

Advocate-On-Record Sachin Patil, appearing for the State of Maharashtra in today’s proceedings, informed the Court of the State government’s plan to open 20 new Child Protection Homes in Maharashtra. They were to rehabilitate children rescued from street situations. He stated that the Maharashtra government had applied to the Union for funding the initiative, but the application was rejected. 

The Union currently supports 13 Child Protection Homes in Maharashtra. Since rejecting the Maharashtra government’s application for 20 new homes, the Union has increased the budget for Child Protection Services for the Financial Year 2022-23. Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Union, informed the Court that the Maharashtra government’s request can be reconsidered in light of the increased budget. 

The Bench allowed the Maharastra government to submit another proposal in one week. The Union will then accommodate the proposal within the new budget.