The Supreme Court on the 13th of September, 2021 instructed the Department of Child and Welfare, Maharashtra to devise a tangible plan on how to allocate the Rs. 25 crore which it had set aside for the welfare of orphaned children whose parents had succumbed to death due to Covid 19.
The Top Court’s direction comes in a miscellaneous application filed in a Special Leave Petition arising out of an order from the Bombay High Court which was disposed of in December 2016. The State of Maharashtra in its submissions to the Court informed that it had already deposited an amount of Rs. 20 crore with the Supreme Court Registry in furtherance of the Courts decision in Hind Charitable Trust Shekhar Hospital Pvt Ltd. v Union of India. The Court noted that the amount was to be utilized for ensuring juvenile justice and that it had now become Rs. 25 crores on addition of accrued interest over the years.
The Division bench of Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice B V Nagarathna observed that 19,000 children had lost at least one parent and 593 children had lost both their parents due to the pandemic.
Advocate Sachin Patil, representing the State of Maharashtra, informed the Supreme Court that the details of those 593 children had already been uploaded on the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights’ (NCPCR) portal under Bal Swaraj Yojana.
Advocate Patil further notified the Court that the State had formulated a policy on the 17th of June 2021 which enacts a scheme to deposit Rs 5 lakh as fixed deposit per child who had lost both their parents, which was to be paid by the State to the said child upon the attainment of majority.
The matter was adjourned by the Court with directions to the Department of Child and Welfare to submit on affidavit the steps being taken by them to mitigate the issue. The matter has been adjourned for 3 weeks.