PIL in Bombay HC seeks 'well-defined' policy for children orphaned due to COVID-19

Narsi BenwalUpdated: Tuesday, June 01, 2021, 11:09 PM IST
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Mumbai: A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Bombay High Court raising concerns over the future of children, who have become orphans due to the Covid19 pandemic. The PIL filed by Pune-based activist seeks a slew of directions ranging from free education to such children to proper documentation of their properties, birth and caste certificates so as to ensure they do not face difficulties in the future.


The PIL filed by Gayatri Patwardhan, a member of Sanath Welfare Foundation, Pune highlights that more than 1,400 children in Maharashtra alone have become orphans as their parents have died due to Covid19.


The plea filed through advocates Asim Sarode and Ajinkya Udane states that as on May 29, there are a total of 1,450 such children, who are left alone with their parents. It states that such children aren't habituated to live in orphan homes and thus they must be given either to the relatives or put under foster care.


Citing the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2015, the petition states that these children must be given free education and proper care should be given to them till they attain majority.


"The central government and state government have declared various packages and schemes for the Covid Orphaned children but such declarations many a times just remain promises and aren't fulfilled," Gayatri said.


"Thus, we are seeking a well-defined process of welfare for such children through this court," she has said in her plea.


The PIL further states that the top court has also ordered details of such orphaned children from all the states.


It further states that as per the child care scheme and foster care policy, presently, children below the age of 18 years are given Rs 1,100 per month. "But now the grant must be filed to Rs 5,000 per month," the plea states.


The PIL further seeks directions to the authorities to provide free education to all such children.


The plea also seeks proper implementation of the Integrated Child Protection Program (ICPP) and "the most important prayer is to do proper documentation regarding cast certificate, birth certificate, property documents and identification records of these children," it states.


Further, the petition highlights the instances of such children being pushed into trafficking and other illegal activities, and therefore, seeks "orphan identity cards" for such children so that they can be identified easily and could be allowd to avail education, job and other schemes.


The PIL is likely to be heard by a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni on Wednesday.

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