Supreme Court directs Tamil Nadu Govt to identify children left in distress by Covid-19

Lekha G

The Supreme Court has directed the Tamil Nadu Government to expedite and complete the process of identifying Covid affected children in order to take care of their basic needs and further produce them before the local Child Welfare Committees (CWC) to assess steps for their future protection.

The Bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose said that records before the Court show “Zero number of children produced before the Child Welfare Committees (CWC) in most districts.” and there was “Stark difference” between number of children identified as in distress and those produced before the CWCs.

The Focus came on to Tamil Nadu when Advocate Gaurav Agrawal highlighted the method of identification of these children adopted in the State.

“It is a top-down approach. The State looks at the official figures of death and sees if there are any children in these families in need of care and protection. But this approach may not help identify all the children in need of care…The Chief Minister has announced several schemes for the welfare of these children, but they would not be effective unless they cover all the children left in distress by the pandemic.” Mr. Agrawal submitted.

The Court further comparing the records of various districts of such children pointed out when backward district like Ramanathapuram could identify 48 Covid affected children, of which 33 were produced before the CWC and provided care and protection, the same must be followed across the State.

Advocate Joseph Aristotle, appearing for Tamil Nadu detailed the welfare schemes for these children, where INR 5 lakh would be deposited for each child orphaned by Covid-19 and would receive the amount at 18 years of age.

Further, INR 3 lakh would be given to children who have lost one of their parents. He also said there is a scheme to provide INR 3000 for monthly expenses of the children and to fulfill their educational requirements.

In this context, Justice Rao further said, “Yes, but you have to start off with identifying them. That is the threshold. Please instruct them (officials) to expedite the identification process. It has to be completed immediately.”

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