Supreme Court asks govt. to detail scheme for pandemic-hit children

On Friday, court voiced its deep concern over future of children orphaned or abandoned owing to the virus

Updated - June 01, 2021 07:25 pm IST

Published - June 01, 2021 07:23 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File

The Union government informed the Supreme Court on Tuesday that the “modalities” of a PM-CARES scheme to fund the education and welfare of children impacted by the pandemic “need to be worked out”.

The government’s explanation in the court came in response to queries on why the scheme was still not available in the public domain.

“We do not know how many children will be beneficiaries or how the Government of India is going to implement the scheme announced on Friday,” the court’s amicus curiae, advocate Gaurav Agrawal, stated in the court.

On Friday, the Supreme Court voiced its deep concern over the future of children orphaned or abandoned owing to the virus.

Mr. Agrawal said the “scheme was not available except in Press notes”.

From what he could gather, the scheme would help COVID-19 impacted children continue their education. It would fund whatever educational requirements, in the form of uniforms, textbooks, etc. The scheme would also offer financial help to children for their higher education. Each child had a corpus of ₹10 lakh. The child would get the corpus amount in lump-sum on reaching the age of 23. “This may be, so that he or she would have some money when they start on their own… There is also health insurance till the age of 18,” he added.

Responding to the submission that the particulars of the scheme were not “available”, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, for the Centre, undertook to file the details of the scheme.

The court asked Ms. Bhati to detail the mechanism for identifying the beneficiaries of the scheme and the method to monitor the flow of benefits to the children.

Focus on 10 States

The court further agreed with Mr. Agrawal’s suggestion to initially focus on the welfare schemes available for COVID-19 affected children in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand.

Mr. Agrawal explained that these States were ahead in their compilation of data about children affected by COVID-19 and he would start with them while giving other States time to compile information about children within their own jurisdictions.

The court is hearing an application filed by Mr. Agrawal, who placed on record a report in The Hindu about the plight of children in the pandemic.

He said the pandemic had wreaked havoc on the lives of many children who have either lost both parents or guardians to the virus. Quoting the newspaper report, he said there had been a marked increase in child trafficking, especially of girls. The government had an obligation to protect children, he added.

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