Take steps to collect information about kids who lost parents to Covid: HC to Delhi government

The court said it was of the view that just like registration of births and deaths is compulsory, it is also necessary to gather information of children who may have lost their parents.

The Delhi High Court on Thursday said the Delhi government needs to take steps to collect information regarding children whose parents have died during the pandemic, and directed the authorities to call RWAs, schools, police stations, and hospitals for the purpose.

“It goes without saying that loss of one or both parents not only damages the children, it also puts them in a vulnerable situation which could be manipulated to their disadvantage,” said the division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh.

The court said it was of the view that just like registration of births and deaths is compulsory, it is also necessary to gather information of children who may have lost their parents. It also directed the health department to issue directions to all hospitals requiring them to furnish information regarding death of any parent under their treatment to the department of Women and Child Development without any delay.

It also directed the government to utilise anganwadi workers to collect information with regard to children who have lost their parents and then provide it to the Child Welfare Committees concerned. The court also directed CWCs to take all measures under the Juvenile Justice Act.

The court said even though the Juvenile Justice Act was enacted in 2015 and the Delhi government has a full-fledged department with the mandate to enforce it, little progress appears to have been made on aspects related to child rights.

“It appears that only after this court has turned its focus on these aspects, there has been some feverish activity undertaken as if the department concerned of the GNCTD has now woken up to the reality,” said the court, while referring to the Women and Child Development and Social Welfare departments.

The court said it was not at this stage getting into the failure of Delhi government to implement the statutory scheme provided for juveniles as it wishes to look forward and give another opportunity to the state for making amends. “We make it clear that in case we find on the next date that the statutory schemes are not implemented on the ground, we shall ourselves proceed to deal with the failures of GNCTD to implement the provisions of the Act and consequences shall follow…,” it added.

Advocate Prabhsahay Kaur, representing Bachpan Bachao Andolan, earlier told the court that despite the law being enacted in 2015, the provisions regarding foster care of children in need of care and protection have not been put into actual play because the requisite guidelines have not been framed and no steps have taken to identify foster homes for children in need of care and protection. Kaur also told the court that hundreds of children have been orphaned during the pandemic and the need to develop the system of foster care is even greater.

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