The Supreme Court on Monday directed the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights to submit a plan of action for children who dropped out of schools due to the adverse impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, Live Law reported.
The court also sought a response from all the state governments and Union Territories to ensure that the education of these children can resume without further delay.
The court’s directions came after the amicus curiae, who offers an impartial advice to a court in a particular case, gave a list of suggestions.
Amicus curiae Gaurav Agarwal told a bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai about children who might not have lost their parents to Covid-19 but have been indirectly harmed by the pandemic, reported Live Law.
Agarwal pointed out that the court had on several occasions passed orders to ensure that education of children who lost either one or both parents in the pandemic is uninterrupted.
“Accordingly, the data pertaining to these children are now reflected in the Baal Swaraj Portal,” Agarwal told the court, reported Live Law. “However, some children were constrained to drop out as their parents lost their livelihood and some children stopped going to school in order to help out their parents or guardians at home.”
He proposed that state governments should look into these dropout cases, especially those children in the age group of six to 14 years as “their right to free and compulsory education is a fundamental right”.
The judges took cognisance of the matter.
“He [Gaurav Agarwal] is right, at the ground level,” Justice Rao said, reported Live Law. “Parents might be alive but because of what happened in the last two years they would not be in a position to send children to school. Education being the fundamental right, why cannot the state come to the rescue.”
He directed Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, representing the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, to submit suggestions on the recommendation.
“You are the authority who coordinates with the states,” Justice Rao said. “You can also tell them [states]. You confer with the authorities.”
The bench also directed the counsel for the states to note the suggestions. The matter will be heard again next week.
In August, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights had told the Supreme Court that over 1 lakh children lost one or both of their parents during the Covid-19 pandemic.