Supreme Court takes note of minor girls testing positive for Coronavirus3 min read

By- Akshay Gurnani

Following up on the spread of COVID-19 in a children’s shelter home in Chennai, the Court was informed today that all the children had recovered and have returned to the shelter home.

The Supreme Court today directed the State of Uttar Pradesh to file an affidavit about the spread of COVID-19 among 57 minor girls in a shelter home in Kanpur.

The Bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta, and S Ravindra Bhat took stock of news reports highlighting the spread of COVID-19 among minor girls lodged in a state-run shelter home in Kanpur. It asked counsel for the state, Advocate Garima Prashad, to take instructions on the issue and file an affidavit.

Reports suggested that some of the girls in the shelter home who tested positive for COVID-19 were pregnant, while one is even HIV positive. This issue was also raised in an application filed before the Supreme Court last month. On June 25, Advocate Aparna Bhat had moved the Apex Court seeking better facilities in shelter homes and child care institutions, after the Kanpur instance was reported by the media.

Bhat, who is as an amicus curiae in the case, also seeks implementation of the Court’s guidelines laid down in its April 3 order as regards the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 in child care institutions (CCI).

On the spread of COVID-19 among children in the Chennai shelter home At the start of the hearing today, the Court first followed up on the spread of COVID-19 among children in one of Chennai’s state-run shelters homes. In June, the Court had taken note of media reports on the same and had sought a status report from the State of Tamil Nadu.

Supreme Court seeks status report from Tamil Nadu on the issue of the spread of COVID-19 in children’s shelter home in Chennai. Today, the Court was informed by Tamil Nadu’s Counsel, Additional Advocate General Balaji Srinivasan, that all the children who had contracted the virus have recovered and have returned to the shelter homes. As on date, there are no new cases reported from the shelter home, Srinivasan said.

States’ response to Supreme Court’s questionnaire about COVID-19 cases among children in conflict with the law In compliance with the Court’s order passed in June, a detailed questionnaire prepared by Justice S Ravindra Bhat was required to be responded to by all states and union territories. This questionnaire was prepared about the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in its order passed on April 3 for containing the spread of the contagion in children’s homes.

The response to this questionnaire was to be submitted by all the states before June 30, the Apex Court had said. However, when the matter was taken up for hearing today, it was found that several states were yet to file their replies. The Court granted them time till Friday to file the requisite response.

The Court also appointed Advocate Gaurav Aggarwal as amicus curiae in the case to assist the Court and directed all the States to submit the responses to Aggarwal

April 3 order after suo motu cognizance about Child Care Institutions.

In April, the Supreme Court took suo motu cognizance of the potential spread of COVID-19 in shelter homes, where children are lodged as per the Juvenile Justice Act. The Court said that it felt the need to pass certain directions for ensuring the well-being of these children. Supreme Court takes suo motu cognizance of COVID-19 scare in child protection, foster homes; passes slew of directions for prevention

In the order passed by the Bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta, the Court said that the directions passed are in line with the currently available information regarding preventive measures. However, considering the dynamic nature of the situation, the Court also asked state departments and concerned authorities to keep abreast of the latest information and advisories.

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