The Supreme Court on Friday passed a slew of directions including setting up of a data base of children living in orphanages and child care institutions to ensure their safety and welfare.
A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta directed the Centre, state governments and union territories (UTs) to complete the registration of all child care institutions by the year-end.
The court said the registration process should also include a data base of all children who are in need of care and protection and update it every month.
It asked the authorities concerned to ensure confidentiality and privacy in maintaining the database.
The court also said it was not necessary that every child in need of care and protection must be placed either in a child care institution and alternative option like adoption and foster care can seriously be considered.
The verdict came on a PIL filed on the basis of a 2007 newspaper report alleging that orphanages in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, run by NGOs as well as government institutions, were reportedly involved in systematic sexual abuse of children.
“It is imperative that the Union government and the governments of states and UTs must concentrate on rehabilitation and social re-integration of children in need of care and protection,” the bench said.
It said that Centre’s schemes like skill development and vocational training must be taken advantage of keeping in mind the need to rehabilitate such children.
The bench also directed state governments and UTs to set up ‘Inspection Committees’ before July 31 to conduct regular inspections of child care institutions and prepare reports of such inspections so that the living conditions of kids there undergo positive changes.
The first report after conducting the inspection should be filed before the government concerned by December 31.
It said the preparation of individual child care plans were extremely important and all governments must ensure that there was a child care plan in place for every child in each child care institution.
It directed that the process for preparing individual child care plans must be initiated immediately and an individual plan must be prepared for each child in each such centres on or before December 31.
The court also directed that all vacancies in State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) be filled across the country by the end of this year.
It also said that training personnel working in these commissions was required.
“It is time that the governments of the States and Union Territories consider de-institutionalisation as a viable alternative,” it said.
The bench said it was imperative that the process of conducting a social audit must be taken up in right earnest by the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights as well as by each State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights.
It said it would help in monitoring and supervising transparency and accountability in the management and functioning of child care institutions.
The bench also requested juvenile justice committee to consider establishing a Secretariat for its assistance.
The Centre was asked to file a report by January 15 next year on implementations of its directions.
The bench also acknowledged the role of lawyer Aparna Bhat, who was appointed as an amicus curiae (friend of court), for her assistance in the matter for over the last 10 years and awarded an honorarium of Rs two lakh.