The Supreme Court on Monday, January 17, pulled up states for the delay in the identification and rehabilitation of street children. The court observed that the special juvenile police units (SJPUs) that were supposed to be created in each district have not been set up properly.
The Supreme Court has now directed district magistrates across the country to involve SJPUs, NGOs, and voluntary organisations to identify children on the streets.
According to India Today report, the court said, "Rehabilitation of children who have already been identified needs to be expedited. State governments need to take policy decisions on the rehabilitation of kids living on the streets."
The SC directed the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to conduct a meeting with all states over their policies on the rehabilitation of children living on the streets. "File status report within three weeks," the court added.
The SC also warned that authorities who have not been following the rules regarding the rehabilitation of street children could be taken to task and punished under the rules under the Juvenile Justice Act.
The court also directed, “In the next meeting to be conducted by NCPCR, the issue of rehabilitation of children without waiting for the entire procedure of putting the data on the portal should be discussed."
The amicus curiae submitted that there is no information provided by states and UTs regarding steps taken for rehabilitation of children who have not been identified and asserted that it is imminent that states decide this. The matter will now be heard after four weeks.
The apex court had earlier said the process of identifying children in street situations, adversely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, is at a very slow pace and directed the states and union territories (UTs) to take immediate steps to identify such children and rehabilitate them without waiting for its directions.
Earlier, the bench had directed all the District Magistrates states and UTs to take steps for the care and protection of children in street situations prepared by the NCPCR in 2020.
It was also brought to the court's notice that there are about 70,000 children in the streets of Delhi alone.