Representation Image / PTI/Ravi Choudhary
The Supreme Court has allowed Child Rights Trust to implead the States in its petition for protection of the fundamental rights of migrant children and children of migrant families in the wake of Covid-19.
The plea filed by Advocate Rukhsana Choudhary brings to fore five areas of concern with regard to migrant children, i.e. hazardous living conditions, food security, health needs, education and protection, reports LiveLaw.
The counsel for the petitioner, Senior Advocate Jayna Kothari requested the bench comprising CJI SA Bobde, Justice Bopanna and Justice Ramasubramanian to issue directions on certain prayers in the plea concerned with giving data on out-of-school migrant children, and a plan to provide them temporary education, till schools reopen. She pointed that while schools were slowly re-opening, many children of migrant labourers have already been pushed into child labour.
The prayers for which directions were sought include:
Directions to provide data on the out-of-school migrant children from all the States, and to provide an action plan on providing a temporary education plan for migrant children and an action plan on how migrant children will be brought back to schools when schools start.
Directions to involve the VCPCs Women and Child Protection Committees and Urban Child Protection in tandem with the school authorities and District Child Protection Units to prevent children entering the labour market (animal husbandry, agriculture)
Directions to submit an action plan on the prevention of child marriages during this period
The court refused to pass any directions but said it will take up the matter while allowing the states to be impleaded.
The petition categorises migrant children into three categories:
1. Children of migrant workers who are left behind in their villages
2. Children who are taken by the migrant families with them and
3. Migrant children who migrate for labour of their own.
The petition states that these children are amongst the worst affected and they remain invisible while being denied access to healthcare and proper nutrition, access to education, and are living in makeshift, unfriendly, unhygienic and testing conditions.
As per LiveLaw, the plea states, “The pandemic is having a discriminatory impact on migrant children and has aggravated their vulnerabilities. This petition brings to fore five areas of concern with regard to migrant children, i.e. hazardous living conditions, food security, health needs, education and protection.”
The plea further underscores the plight of migrant children being deprived of access to food security which is a fundamental right under Article 21 due to schools being shut and unavailability of mid-day meals. The petition also points out that since health care is in demand in the fight for COVID, regular issues like immunisation, maternal healthcare, mental and physical health of children, health check-ups, primary health care tend to suffer.