Nearly 2 Lakh Children Go ‘Missing’ Between Two Surveys Done by Centre, SC ‘Shocked’
The court also proposed setting up of national-level and state-level committees for monitoring and overview of shelter homes so that recent incidents of sexual assault of children in Muzaffarpur and Deoria do not recur.
A file photo of the Supreme Court. (PTI)
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed its shock after two surveys revealed a glaring discrepancy in the number of children admitted in child care institutions. The surveys showed a difference of over two lakh children.
The survey conducted between 2016-17 by NGO Childline, pursuant to an order by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, had computed the number of children in over 9,500 child care institutions as 4.3 lakh.
But statistics compiled by the central government on the basis of information received from states put the number at 2.6 lakh in around 8600 institutions.
"What happened to these two lakh children? How many of them are missing...because we can see that the number of adoption is negligible. We are shocked to see all this," observed a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur.
The bench said it was "distressed" to see that children have been reduced to sheer numbers.
"Children have heart and soul too. They are being treated as just numbers...this is a very serious issue," it further remarked.
When amicus curiae Aparna Bhat cited this discrepancy, the bench sought to know from the Centre as to what could be the reason behind the difference in numbers.
The response of advocate R Balasubramanian on behalf of the Centre failed to convince the bench as it noted that the answers ranged from statistical mistakes to figures being inflated by child care institutions in order to get more fund.
At this, Balasubramanian submitted that the Centre will now send suitable queries to the states, eliciting answers about the discrepancy.
The court said the Centre should apprise the bench of the answers on the next date of hearing.
It also proposed setting up of national-level and state-level committees for monitoring and overview of shelter homes so that recent incidents of sexual assault of children in Muzaffarpur and Deoria do not recur.
It recorded that states do not have a problem in constituting such committees and asked the Centre to come back with a positive reply on the next date.
Committees are likely to comprise government officials and members of civil society.
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