Supreme Court Considers Extending Benefits to All Orphans

Supreme Court Considers Extending Benefits to All Orphans
Supreme Court Considers Extending Benefits to All Orphans
Supreme Court Considers Extending Benefits to All Orphans
Supreme Court Considers Extending Benefits to All Orphans

Supreme Court Considers Extending Benefits to All Orphans

Supreme Court Considers Extending Benefits to All Orphans. Image/PTI

The Supreme Court has expressed its view that an orphan is an orphan, regardless of the circumstances of their parents’ death. The court has asked the Indian government to explore ways to extend the benefits of schemes, including the PM Cares fund, intended for children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic, to all orphans.

Court’s Observations

A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra pointed out that policies for orphans should be inclusive, addressing the condition of orphans regardless of the cause of their parents’ death. The court emphasized that orphaned children deserve support regardless of whether their parents died in an accident or due to illness.

Request for Instructions

The Additional Solicitor General Vikramjeet Banerjee, representing the Central government, was asked to seek instructions on whether the benefits of schemes, including the PM Cares fund, designed for children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic, could be extended to other orphaned children.

Response by the ASG

The ASG stated that he had recently been assigned the case and would respond to the court’s query within four weeks.

Petitioner’s Submission

The petitioner, Poulomi Pavini Shukla, argued that children orphaned during the pandemic received benefits under the Right to Education Act and similar benefits could be provided to other orphaned children through the court’s direction.

Use of the RTE Act

Shukla pointed out that Delhi and Gujarat were providing benefits of the Right to Education Act to orphaned children through a government order issued under section 2(d) of the Act. Section 2(d) deals with children belonging to disadvantaged groups and includes a range of factors that may cause disadvantage.

Court’s Directive

The bench asked the Centre to consider the expression “such other group” in section 2(d) of the RTE Act and explore the possibility of extending benefits to all orphans by issuing appropriate directions.

Long-Pending Petition

Shukla noted that her plea was issued a notice in 2018, the year she filed it. However, the Central government has not filed its response even after five years. She highlighted the need to address this issue promptly.

Advocate’s Suggestion

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, also representing the petitioner, suggested that orphaned children should be granted the benefit of a 20% quota for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in school admissions, similar to other children.

Court’s Directions

The court directed the Central government to seek instructions and file a detailed affidavit in response. It also directed the states to file their responses regarding section 2(d) of the Right to Education Act.

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