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Government’s support for orphans and a new portal

Context:

If anyone knows a child who was orphaned due to COVID-19, they can now share his or her details with the government on a web portal and help the child claim benefits under the PM CARES scheme.

Earlier in 2021, the Prime Minister had announced that the government would launch a slew of welfare measures for children who had lost their parents to COVID-19.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Issues Related to Children, Government Policies and Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Recent updates on orphans given by the NCPCR
  2. State Governments and their measures
  3. Provisions for Protection of Orphan Children
  4. NCPCR’s online portal ‘Bal Swaraj’
  5. National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
  6. Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021

About the Recent updates on orphans given by the NCPCR

  • The cataclysmic COVID-19 pandemic devastated the vulnerable sections of society and there are a number of children who have become orphans due to the demise of either the breadwinner of the family or of both their parents.
  • The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) informed the Supreme Court that these children ran a high risk of being pushed into trafficking and flesh trade.
  • The Commission said it had already received several complaints of government authorities illegally transferring details of children to private entities and NGOs.

State Governments and their measures

  • Maharashtra has identified a total of 482 in the age-group of 0 to 18 who lost both their parents in the pandemic and the government said it had allocated ₹10 crore for the scheme as of July 2021.
  • Delhi announced ‘Mukhyamantri COVID-19 Pariwar Aarthik Sahayata Yojna’, under which ₹50,000 will be given as a one-time compensation to all families who lost someone to COVID-19.
  • In the first phase, the Tamil Nadu government has sanctioned over 33 crores to benefit a total of over 1000 children who lost both their parents.
  • In Karnataka, it has been estimated that as many as 89 children who were orphaned after their parents died of COVID-19 would be beneficiaries of the Chief Minister’s Bala Seva Yojana.

Provisions for Protection of Orphan Children

  • There is a process as per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 which needs to be followed with children who have been orphaned.
  • If someone has information about a child in need of care, then they must contact one of the four agencies: Childline 1098, or the district Child Welfare Committee (CWC), District Child Protection Officer (DCPO) or the helpline of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
  • Following this, the CWC will assess the child and place him or her in the immediate care of a Specialised Adoption Agency. The State thus takes care of all such children who are in need of care and protection, till they turn 18 years.
  • Once a child is declared legally free for adoption by the CWC, adoption can be done either by Indian prospective adoptive parents or non-resident Indians or foreigners, in that order.
  • The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), a statutory body of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, is the nodal agency for adoption.
  • It regulates the adoption of orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children through its associated or recognised agencies.

NCPCR’s online portal ‘Bal Swaraj’

  • In view of the growing problem related to children affected by COVID-19, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has devised an online tracking portal “Bal Swaraj (COVID-Care link)” for children in need of care and protection.
  • The portal has been created with the purpose of tracking and monitoring children who need care and protection in real-time, digitally.
  • The portal will also be used to track children who have lost both their parents during COVID-19.
  • The “COVID-Care” link on the portal has been provided for the concerned officer or department to upload the data of such children.
  • The “Bal Swaraj-COVID-Care” aims at tracking the children affected by COVID-19 right from their production before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), to the restoration of the children to their parent, guardian, or relative, and its subsequent follow-up.
  • The Commission will be able to get information about whether the child is getting his/her entitlements, benefits, and entitled monetary gains, through the data filled in the portal by the District officers and State officers for each child.

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)

  • The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) is an Indian Statutory Body established by an Act of Parliament, the Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005.
  • The Commission works under the aegis of Ministry of Women and Child Development, GoI.
  • The Commission is mandated under section 13 of CPCR Act, 2005 “to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
  • As defined by the commission, child includes person up to the age of 18 years.
  • Also, NCPCR cannot enquire into any matter which is pending before a State Commission or any other Commission duly constituted.
  • The commission consist of the following members:
    1. A chairperson who, is a person of eminence and has done a outstanding work for promoting the welfare of children; and
    2. Six members, out of which at least two are woman, from the following fields, is appointed by the Central Government from amongst person of eminence, ability, integrity, standing and experience in:
      • Education,
      • Child health, care, welfare or child development,
      • Juvenile justice or care of neglected or marginalized children or children with disabilities,
      • Elimination of child labour or children in distress
      • Child psychology or sociology
      • Laws relating to children

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021

  • Now, “Serious offences” will also include offences for which maximum punishment is imprisonment of more than seven years, and minimum punishment is not prescribed or is of less than seven years. [Serious offences are those for which the punishment under the Indian Penal Code or any other law for the time being is imprisonment between three and seven years.]
  • The Juvenile Justice Board inquiries about a child who is accused of a serious offence.
  • The Bill amends the present act to provide that an offence which is punishable with imprisonment between three to seven years to be non-cognizable (non-cognizable where arrest is allowed without warrant).
  • Presently, the adoption order issued by the court establishes that the child belongs to the adoptive parents. The Bill provides that instead of the court, the District Magistrate (including Additional District Magistrate) will issue such adoption orders.
  • The Bill provides that any person aggrieved by an adoption order passed by the District Magistrate may file an appeal before the Divisional Commissioner, within 30 days from the date of passage of such order.

-Source: The Hindu

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