Lucknow: The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to examine a plea seeking reservation in educational institutions and government jobs for orphans, who have no linkage in society, on par with those belonging to the SC/ST and OBC category.
The top court has issued a notice to the Central and state governments seeking provisions of reservation for orphans in government jobs and educational institutions. The notice comes as a response to a PIL filed by lawyer and author Poulomi Pavini Shukla.
The PIL filed by Shukla sought reservation for orphan children, who are just as deserving as those belonging to OBC or the third gender.
A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R Banumathi issued notice to the Centre seeking its response to the plea which has also sought provision of other benefits to the orphans, including bank loans and incentives for setting up businesses.
The Petitioner claimed that the Centre and the states have failed over the years to frame any rehabilitation scheme for approximately 2.5 crore orphans and protect the rights of those who continue to live in miserable conditions with no one to take care of them. The plea also said that the state would have to assume the role of a "parent" for orphans.
Poulomi, a law graduate, claimed to have visited 50 orphanages in eight states before filing the PIL. "Equal or more financial and educational support needs to be given to empower orphan children as compared to those who have parents but belong to various backward and scheduled categories," she said.
Poulomi, who has also co-authored a book, titled "Weakest on Earth – Orphans of India", has claimed that the orphans, whose antecedents are unknown, were "unjustly" and "forcibly given a religion and a caste by the government which goes to their detriment.
"Issue a direction to the government to have a policy for assigning religion to orphans and ensure that orphan children are given the right to choose their religion upon attaining majority and are not under duress of any kind to choose a specific religion," the plea said.
The plea has said that the state is bound to provide adequate measures for the orphans for their survival, growth and empowerment and opportunity so that they can compete on an equal footing with others.
"The central government's flagship scheme, ICPS (Integrated Child Protection Scheme), is meant to take care of the 2 crore orphans. However, this programme has covered less than 1 lakh children, per year. The total budgetary allocation for the scheme in 2018-19 is Rs 725 crore, which translates to less than Re. 1 per child, per day,” the petition said.
Apart from judicial intervention in ensuring right to life, right to education and right to equality for orphans, the petitioner also sought an official census or survey be conducted to determine the number of orphans in the country.
The plea also sought the Centre to constitute an expert group of the NITI Aayog or a committee or commission like the 'Mandal Commission' with public participation to examine all aspects of orphan and children in need of care and protection and suggest solutions.