The Supreme Court on Monday gave states and Union Territories three months to provide details of orphanages to the Centre, including the number of children living in childcare institutions. The direction came from a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta after the court was informed that 19 states and four Union Territories (UTs) had not furnished the details despite the court’s direction. “Nineteen states and four UTs have not given complete information. We cannot compare the details if we do not have the number of children,” advocate Aparna Bhat, appointed amicus curiae in the case, told the bench.
This upset the bench, which warned that it would summon the chief secretaries if the details were not given to the Centre on time. The bench asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh, who represented the Centre, to send a reminder to the states and UTs.
Bhat told the bench that although the Centre had “vigorously followed up” the matter with the states and UTs, most had not provided the details. She submitted before the court bench a state-wise chart of the details which were not provided yet.
Perusing the chart, the court told the ASG, “You look at this chart (given by amicus curiae) state-wise and examine what is the missing information. It would be appropriate if you tell us what are the defects.”
The top court is hearing a PIL filed on the basis of a 2007 newspaper report, which said that orphanages in Tamil Nadu’s Mahabalipuram, which were run by the NGOs as well as some government institutions, were involved in systematic sexual abuse of children.
Acting on the PIL, the court had earlier passed several directions, including setting up of a database of children living in orphanages and child-care institutions, to ensure their safety and welfare.
It directed the Centre, states and UTs to complete the registration of all childcare institutions and said the registration process should also include a database of all children who are in need of care and protection and update it every month.