New Delhi, Dec 1 (IANS) The Centre on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that no child would be repatriated to their parents’ home without scrutiny, which entails support system for the child as per the requirements under the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, submitted before a bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao that as per the law, a child also cannot be kept in children’s homes forever.
The bench recorded the Centre’s submission that the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) order has been set aside, where directions were given to district magistrates and collectors of eight states to ensure that the children living in care homes return to their families, preferably within a 100-day period. The Centre contended before the top court that no child would be repatriated without following the requirements of the JJ Act.
Mehta submitted that the recommendations of the NCPCR was intended to check the conditions of individual children and it was not mandatory. He added, “The children must be produced before the Child Welfare Committee to explore further welfare needs. They will not be sent home without assessment. It’s not an en masse repatriation.”
The top court expressed its apprehension in connection with a general direction pertaining to all children being sent home.
On September 24, the NCPCR had issued a letter to Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Mizoram, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra and Meghalaya, stating that it is the right of every child to grow up in a familial environment.
Advocate Gaurav Agrawal, appointed amicus curiae in the matter, had said that as the Covid-19 pandemic still persisted in these states, the NCPCR should not have issued the order. Backing its decision, the NCPCR had said that the decision was taken in the backdrop of the alarming concerns over the safety and security of children in these institutions.
Nearly 72 per cent children, 1.84 Lakh in these states, are in in child care homes out of a total of 2.56 lakh in the country, and the NCPCR had tasked the district magistrates and collectors of these states to ensure repatriation preferably within a 100-day period.
The children lodged in children’s care institutions were supposed to go back to their families after a review by the Child Welfare Committees.
In the previous hearings, the top court had observed that a general direction could not be given in the backdrop of multiple aspects which are supposed to be taken into account.
On April 2, the top court had taken suo moto cognisance of the conditions of children’s protection homes across the country amid the Covid-19 pandemic.