- The Supreme Court has expressed shock at the discrepancy in two surveys reflecting a difference of around two lakh children staying in child care institutions and said it was “very, very disturbing” that such children were being treated as mere numbers.
- In May, 2017, the apex court had passed a slew of directions including setting up of a data base of children living in orphanages and child care institutions (CCIs) to ensure their safety and welfare.
- As per a 2016-17 survey carried out at the directions of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the number of children living in CCIs was around 73 lakh, while the data filed in the court by the government in March 2018 says it was about 2.61 lakh.
Possible reasons for this huge differences
- It is not exactly clear why there is a huge discrepancy of around two lakh children as per the two surveys.
- The Centre told the court that the government had compiled the March numbers from the data supplied by states and union territories about the number of children living in CCIs.
- There is also a possibility that the CCIs may have given “inflated figures” to state governments to get more funds.
Suggested measures to be taken
- The SC bench said it is contemplating setting up of a national level and state level committees to monitor the CCIs.
- Committees at the national and state levels could deal with the issue of CCIs so that recent incidents like alleged rape and sexual abuse of minor girls and women at shelter homes in Muzaffarpur in Bihar and Deoria in Uttar Pradesh could be prevented.
- The bench suggested creation of a mechanism where cases of abuse in CCIs must be reported to the concerned authorities within 24 hours so that action could be taken.
Issues in Child Care Institutions
- There is the issue of waiting period of around 3-4 years in the adoption process of such children and this delay made the chances of adoption bleak.
- Out of 9,589 CCIs across the country, there was problem of overcrowding of children in 1,596 homes and no CCI existed in 97 districts.
- Also issue of corporal punishments and other abuses meted out to the children living in CCIs.