The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that over 1 lakh children lost one or both of their parents during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Hindustan Times reported.
According to the NCPCR’s affidavit, a total of 1,01,32 children either lost one or both of their parents, or were abandoned between April 1, 2020, and August 23, 2021. Of these, 92,475 children lost one parents, 8,161 children became orphans and 396 children were abandoned.
The child rights body clarified that the fatalities mentioned in the affidavit included both deaths due to the coronavirus and deaths due to other reasons. The data was uploaded by states and Union territories on the NCPCR’s Bal Swaraj portal, which tracks children in need of care and protection.
It filed the affidavit in response to a suo motu case in the Supreme Court on the challenges faced by children affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
During a hearing of the case on Thursday, the Supreme Court directed state governments to ensure that children who became orphans during the Covid-19 pandemic are able to continue their studies in private schools without disruptions for at least the current academic year, Live Law reported.
The court suggested that state governments either pay a part of the fees for such students or ask private schools to waive it entirely.
A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose asked states to take proactive steps. “Identification of children who have lost both or one parent is a starting point to find out needs of distressed children,” the court said.
It also asked the Centre if the PM-CARES Fund could be used to help children who lost their parents during the pandemic, Bar and Bench reported.
“What are the modalities of PM Cares Fund,” the court asked Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati. “Who are the children who will get benefit of PM Cares? Whether money can be released immediately for continuing education [of] children who are in private schools?”
The Supreme Court has directed all states and Union territories to file status reports on how many children lost one or both of their parents after March 2020, according to Live Law. It also directed them to state how many children were produced before child welfare committees during this period.
The court also directed states and Union territories to provide details on the number of children who have received benefits under various government schemes during this period.