Plea in SC for proper treatment of COVID-positive minor girls of Kanpur shelter home

New Delhi, Jun 25 (PTI) A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court on Thursday seeking proper “medical treatment and facilities” to as many as 57 minor girls who have tested positive for COVID-19 in a Kanpur-based shelter home in Uttar Pradesh.

The plea has been filed by lawyer Aparna Bhat in her capacity as an amicus curiae in a 2007 case related to “Exploitation of Children in Orphanages in State of Tamil Nadu”.

Seeking better facilities for such children, the plea said, “Allow the present application and direct that appropriate medical treatment and facilities be given to the minor girls who have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 in the Shelter Home in Kanpur District, Uttar Pradesh and report on their health condition on a regular basis”.

The National Human Rights Commission has also taken cognizance of news reports that 57 minor girls have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Kanpur shelter home.

Bhat has sought a direction to the Centre to issue an advisory to all Child Welfare Committees to ensure that children, who are being newly admitted into any Child Care Institutions (CCIs), are suitably quarantined before allowing them to be placed in CCIs and the necessary resources for the same be allocated as an interim measure to meet the extraordinary requirements of the pandemic.

“Direct the Union of India to immediately identify homes for the purposes of quarantining children who are COVID positive and/or who are in need of being quarantined since their immediate history cannot be accessed and they can asymptomatic carriers,” the plea said.

It said that the Centre be asked to make testing mandatory before placing new children in the CCIs and then follow the necessary protocol.

The application has sought a direction to the Centre to call for a report from each state about the conditions of the children in the CCIs and their COVID-19 readiness including facilities for testing, quarantine and other facilities that are prescribed by the Ministry of Health for management of COVID-19 positive patients.

The plea referred to the fact that the top court, on April 3, had taken suo motu (on its own) cognizance of the condition of children in protection, juvenile and foster or kinship homes across the country amid the coronavirus outbreak and had issued directions to the state governments and various other authorities to protect them.

“That the manner in which COVID-19 has spread in the concerned Shelter Home makes it clear that the directions passed by this Court in Re: Contagion of COVID-19 Virus in Children Protection Homes order dated April 03, …with respect to the measures to be taken by Child Welfare Committees, Juvenile Justice Boards, CCIs and Governments have not been followed,” the plea said.

Earlier on June 11, the apex court had taken note of 35 children testing positive for COVID-19 in a government-run shelter home in Tamil Nadu and had sought a status report from the state government including steps taken to protect other children at the facility.

It had also sought status report from different state governments on steps taken to protect children in shelter homes amid the pandemic, and also compliance of its April 3 order in this regard.

It had said a detailed order was passed by the Court on April 3 dealing with all issues pertaining to children in conflict with law and several directions were given to the State Governments for taking preventive measures to protect children from the spread of COVID-19.

The top court said that Juvenile Justice Committees of high courts will circulate a questionnaire of the court among state governments seeking information in relation to the care and protection of children in conflict with law and submit their feedback before June 30. PTI SJK MNL ABA MNL RKS RKS