The Supreme Court is in favour of disbursing the over Rs 25 crore deposited by the Maharashtra government in the Supreme Court registry five years ago, to children who lost both parents during the Covid pandemic in the state.
A bench of Justices of India DY Chandrachud and BV Nagarathna noted earlier this week that the state has about 19,000 children who lost a parent due to COVID-19 and 593 who lost both their parents.
Maharashtra, one of the worst affected states during the second wave of the pandemic earlier this year, had deposited the money in the Supreme Court registry in an old matter related to medical college admissions.
The Supreme Court noted that the government of Maharashtra formulated a policy on June 17, 2021 envisaging that Rs 5 lakh be placed in a fixed deposit for children who lost both their parents due to the pandemic and the money will be payable to them after they attain the age of maturity.
"The amount of Rs 20 crores which was deposited (by Maharashtra government) in pursuance of the order dated December 2, 2016 stands enhanced to Rs 25,53,25,548 as a result of accretions of interest," the bench said.
The Supreme Court said before it directs the disbursal of the money to the State of Maharashtra, it wants that a concrete statement be placed on affidavit about the manner in which the money will be utilised for the benefit of children affected by the death of either or both parents due to the Covid pandemic.
"The Secretary, Women and Child Development of the State of Maharashtra shall file an affidavit within a period of three weeks. The Court shall thereafter pass an appropriate order after scrutinizing the proposal," the bench said in its order passed on September 13.
Advocate Sachin Patil, appearing for the Maharashtra government, submitted a note giving details on how the money would be utilized in the interests of the children.
In a pending matter, he said, the Supreme Court was informed by the Maharashtra government that 593 children had lost both their parents and the data was uploaded on the Bal Swaraj website of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). The estimated figure is subject to further verification, he added.
The Supreme Court appreciated Mr Patil's assistance and his suggestion that the amount be used for the benefit of children who lost one or both parents due to Covid.
On December 2, 2016, the Supreme Court listed the matter for further hearing on October 4, while hearing an appeal of students against a Bombay High Court order on admissions to a medical college had said that since the State of Maharashtra is supporting the cause of the students, it should deposit an amount of Rs 20 crore in this court by December 15, 2016.
On December 16, 2016, the Supreme Court, while dismissing the appeal of the students, directed that the amount be kept available for utilization for juvenile justice issues.
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