Supreme Court seeks details of Centre's scheme for COVID-19 orphans
The Supreme Court on Tuesday took note of the central government's welfare scheme aimed at children orphaned due to COVID-19. The apex court has reportedly sought details on the government's plan along with the mechanism devised to monitor it. Earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the 'PM-CARES for Children' scheme for children who lost parents or guardians due to the pandemic.
An SC bench—comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose—directed states/Union Territories to appoint nodal officers of Secretary or Joint Secretary level. These nodal officers will interact with amicus curiae Gaurav Agrawal and provide information on COVID-19 orphans and welfare measures for them. The court had taken up a suo motu case while hearing a case about the COVID-19 outbreak at childcare homes.
According to PTI, the bench will hear cases of 10 states on June 7. The states include Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh where most kids have lost bread-winning parents/guardians due to COVID-19.
According to data shared by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to the Supreme Court, the COVID-19 pandemic has orphaned over 1,700 children. Further, 140 children have been abandoned, while over 7,400 children have lost one of their parents. The amicus curiae highlighted the urgent need to provide such children with food, ration, shelter, and clothing.
The PM's office said in a statement on Saturday, "All children who have lost both parents or surviving parent or legal guardian/adoptive parents due to COVID-19 will be supported under 'PM-CARES for Children' scheme." COVID-19 orphans have also been offered other benefits including free education, health insurance, a monthly stipend once they turn 18, a Rs. 10 lakh fund when they turn 23, etc.