Hindustan Times (Lucknow)

9,347 kids orphaned by pandemic, Supreme Court told

- Abraham Thomas letters@hindustant­imes.com

NEW DELHI: The tally of children who lost a parent or were orphaned during the pandemic could be much higher than the figure of 9,346 provided by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights to the Supreme Court in an affidavit on Monday. This came to light as the Supreme Court heard the state and Union territory administra­tions in a suo motu petition on Tuesday and found difference­s in the data uploaded on the NCPCR website, Bal Swaraj.

In a note supplied to amicus curiae in the case, Gaurav Agrawal, the Maharashtr­a government stated that since March 2020, 140 children became orphans due to the pandemic while 4,451 children lost a parent. But the data provided by NCPCR in its affidavit showed that Maharashtr­a had 80 orphans and 716 children who lost a parent. Maharashtr­a told the court that the discrepanc­y was on account of technical glitches faced in uploading the data on the NCPCR website. Maharashtr­a counsel Sachin Patil informed the court that data entry happens in six stages, but the district child protection officers found it difficult to enter data as informatio­n about the children wasn’t available.

Rajasthan also reported the same problem. NCPCR counsel Swarupama Chaturvedi informed the court that the informatio­n on the portal need not be complete as the respective districts can just fill in the basic informatio­n.

The bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Anirudhha Bose extended time for states to upload data to June 5.

HT on Monday reported that, as per NCPCR’s affidavit, between March 2020 and May 29, a total of 1,742 children became orphans while 140 were abandoned due to Covid; 7,464 children lost a parent. This data was uploaded by 25 states and five union territorie­s and added up to 9,346. The court also directed additional solicitor general Aishwarya Bhati to file an affidavit explaining the ‘PM CARES for Children’ scheme.

The next hearing will be held on June 7.

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