SC seeks details of PM Cares Fund scheme to help kids orphaned by Covid-19

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to provide details of the scheme recently announced under PM Cares Fund to help children who were orphaned due to Covid and how the scheme will be implemented.

Amicus curiae, advocate Gaurav Agrawal submitted before the top court that the government announced a scheme on May 29 to benefit children orphaned due to the pandemic. He added that they don’t know yet how many children are beneficiaries of this scheme, though it said children who have lost parents, adoptive parent, etc would be its beneficiaries.

A bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose asked the Centre’s counsel to file an affidavit regarding the announcement of package made under PM Cares Fund. Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati submitted that the details of the scheme, including identification of beneficiaries would be filed before the court.

According to the scheme, all children who lost both parents or a surviving parent, legal guardian or adoptive parents due to Covid-19 disease will be supported by a corpus of Rs 10 lakh from the PM Cares Fund. This corpus will be used for providing a monthly stipend for five years when the children are 18 years of age.

The top court was hearing an application filed in a suo motu matter on prevention of Covid-19 in child care institutions across the country.

According to an affidavit filed by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), the pandemic orphaned over 1,700 children, led to 140 children being abandoned while more than7,400 children lost one of their parents.

The NCPCR counsel had informed the court that a web portal “Bal Swaraj” was launched, through which each district can upload information about children during the pandemic. The top court, last week, had directed to all states to upload data beginning March 2020 by May 29 and allowed the NCPCR to file its response in the matter.

Acting on Agrawal’s suggestion, the top court told Telanagana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, and Jharkhand to appoint a nodal officer who would interact with the advocate regarding necessary information of orphans. The top court noted that at present there 9,000 such children who’ve lost both or one parent. The counsel for NCPCR submitted that state governments have not been able to provide complete information regarding children who have lost their parents due to the pandemic.