May 6, 2021 5:10:30 am
The Child Rights Collective, Gujarat (CRCG), has moved the Gujarat High Court to be impleaded as a party to the ongoing suo motu public interest litigation on Covid-19 and its management. It has sought the court’s directions specifically taking into account and prioritising the conditions of children with special needs, juvenile home residents, and pregnant women across the state. It has also sought an exemption to the mandatory rule of placing orphaned children in foster homes for six months.
The Ahmedabad-based umbrella organisation represents disabled children, children of migrant workers, sex workers, construction workers, salt pan, and agricultural labourers, besides those affected or infected by HIV or in need of care and protection under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, and economically, socially and educationally vulnerable children. The application suggests that Gujarat must consider doing away with the condition of keeping a child in a home for six months as a pre-condition to a foster care case.
“There are instances where both the parents have died due to Covid-19 and maternal and paternal relatives are taking care of such children. It is in a way a foster care and, therefore, not to benefit those who keep such children but to recognise and cover such children under the foster care scheme and extend the benefit to them,” the CRCG application states.
The application, moved by the group’s designated authorised person Rajesh Bhat, through lawyer Anand Yagnik, highlights that “lately there have been instances of children staying in the juvenile homes or children homes getting infected with corona(virus) and they have not been properly treated. As they do not have anybody to look after (them) in terms of relatives, they are not taken to hospitals or their hospitalization is belated. These children under the custody of the state must be medically looked after during the pandemic and provided with proper education, food and health supplements if they are infected with Covid-19.”
It also sought that children with special needs and those with disabilities must be given preference in Covid-19 treatment and that they must be admitted along with one of the parents or a relative with whom they share proximity and bonding “so that this category of children is recognised and treated in a special and different manner keeping in mind their disabilities”.
The application seeks continuation of the mid-day meal scheme and food supplement schemes under ICDS for anganwadi children .
Highlighting that in the recent wave of Covid-19, there have been instances where pregnant women across the state, “particularly coming from economically, culturally, educationally, and socially backward class and communities do not get utmost preferential treatment and medical assistance”, especially if they are suffering from Covid-19, with lengthy procedural precedents before she can undergo surgery for the delivery of the child, the applicant has sought that the state and Centre must “involve a strategy and take a decision and give necessary directions for government hospitals, municipal hospitals, panchayat hospitals and other recognised private hospitals to provide separate place… with utmost urgency and preference medical treatment and assistance to pregnant women ”.
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