The Supreme Court today directed all states to inform it about the number of migrant children and their condition on a plea seeking directions for the protection of their fundamental rights amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
A bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian also asked all the states impleaded as parties in the case to file replies in the matter.
Senior advocate Jayna Kothari appeared for the petitioners.
The top court had impleaded all the states on March 8 and issued notice on the plea filed by the Child Rights Trust and a Bengaluru resident seeking directions for the protection of the fundamental rights of migrant children amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plea stated that due to the severity of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, the Union government announced a nationwide lockdown and during this period, migrant children were affected the most and have been among the most vulnerable.
“Although there has been marked efforts by the respondents to provide migrant workers with welfare measures, no report emanated from the Central or the State governrnent’s detailing relief measures extended to women and children who are stranded or in relief camps and quarantine centres at source districts.”
“The unprecedented lockdown, ensuing migrant crisis and the subsequent effect of the same on migrant children and their fundamental and human rights is conspicuous and an ongoing crises,” the plea said.
It contended that the lockdown has resulted in tremendous hardship for migrant children and till date there has been no assessment of the exact numbers of migrant children, infants, and pregnant or lactating migrant women and their needs.
“Children of migrants and migrating children remain invisible and are the most vulnerable and are denied access to health and proper nutrition, quality education and skills and knowledge they need to thrive and spend their lives in makeshift, unfriendly, unhygienic and testing conditions.”
“The pandemic is having a discriminatory impact on migrant children and has aggravated their vulnerabilities. Migrant children will be denied their fundamental rights to education, health and nutrition if the matter is not heard and appropriate orders passed by this Court,” the plea said.
It has sought directions to map, enumerate and register the number of infants and children of migrant families at various work sites and centres of concentration of migrant families with the help of local authorities at the panchayat and ward offices through frontline workers.
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