SC Stresses On Need Of Online Classes For Children In Shelter Homes

A Bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao asked states to submit a report on the steps taken for online classes in Child care institutions.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday while hearing the suo motu case regarding the spread of COVID-19 in children shelter homes, stressed the need for online classes for the children.

A Bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao asked states to submit a report on the steps taken for online classes in Child care institutions.

Amicus Curiae, advocate Gaurav Agarwal appointed by the top court to assist it, told the court that in Assam at the beginning of lockdown there 2400 children in Child Care Institutions but now the number stands at 1800.

"500 children were released. The one released need to be followed up with if they need medical or educational facilities. Funding by the state of Assam is not clear," Agarwal contended.

Advocate Diksha Rai appearing for the state of Assam said she needs time to place instructions on record and added that follow up with released children has been difficult due to the lockdown and because most of these children have gone to remote areas.

The advocate said she will file the complete affidavit before the court stating the number of children released too.

During the hearing, Justice Rao asked the counsel of Assam why cannot state procure devices, Android mobiles and connect to HDMI from Child care institution so that online classes can be imparted to the children?

The Bench then asked the State of Assam to submit a report by July 29 on online classes to be held for Child care institutions. The infrastructure required will be arranged by the state government, it added.

For the state of Bihar, amicus curiae Agarwal told the court that in Bihar there are a large number of children from Child care institutions who have been released, some of them are on bail.

Advocate Manish Kumar appearing for Bihar submitted that State is providing Rs 1000 per month to every child who is with his/her family. Apart from that, there is complete monitoring of all the child care institutions, he added.

The Bench asked the advocate about how were the 873 children in conflict with the law were sent to parents and what was the procedure followed?

Advocate replied that they were released post orders by Juvenile Justice Board.

The Bench also sought to know about the educational needs of the children in conflict with the law. "Can't you (Bihar government) have an online education system? We give you two-week time to file a report on this," the top court said.

The apex court also asked the counsel appearing for the Delhi government whether the state is providing online classes to such children.

Advocate Chirag M Shroff, appearing for Delhi government told the Bench that for competitive exams it is providing, for the rest he will seek instructions.

The court said there needs to be a follow up on the amount of money these children need or any other facilities.

Advocate Ashish Tiwari appearing for the state of Chhattisgarh said the government is providing online classes in Child Care Institutions.

To this, the Bench asked, "But what is the medium? You need to submit details. Also for children who are in conflict with law, if released need to be followed up. Maintaining contacts with them is very important."

The court also said that it would ask the assistance of the Union of India during the next hearing. This assistance from Centre will specifically be on the aspect of funding, the Bench said.

Hearing Andhra Pradesh counsel, the court said there are huge numbers of children in children's homes and asked whether these children are in conflict with the law and enquired about the number of homes in Andhra Pradesh.

Advocate Mahfooz Nazki appearing for the Andhra Pradesh government told the court that a lot of parents coming to shelter home institutions because they themselves are not able to take care of these children and added that there are about 900 children homes in the state.

Amicus Curiae apprised the Bench that the expense of the state of Andhra Pradesh for children in conflict with the law has gone down considerably and the state should look into this.

Andhra's advocate Nazki contended that state government is delivering food and other essential goods to the children homes.

"But the students have gone back home? What about them? Also, tell us about funding?" asked the Bench, to which advocate Nazki said the government has district wise data and he will provide all the details to the court.

The court now posted the matter for hearing on July 21 and will hear the remaining states.

After the report of COVID-19 positive 35 children came from Chennai, the top court took Suo moto cognisance of the matter and sought a report from states governments including steps taken to protect the remaining children in shelter homes amid the pandemic. 


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