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S C notice to Centre, states on PIL to secure rights of orphan kids

New Delhi, July 5 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Thursday issues notices to the Centre and state governments on a PIL seeking reservation for orphan children – who are as deserving as any Backward Caste, Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribes.

A bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R. Banumathi sought response from the Centre and all the states and Union Territories on the plea filed by 25-year old law graduate Poulomi Pavini Shukla, who claims to have visited over 50 orphanages in eight states before filing the PIL.

She sought judicial intervention in ensuring right to life, right to education and right to equality specifically for children who are orphans and all children in need of care and protection.

“The same or more financial, educational and empowerment support be given to orphan children as what is given by the government to various categories of children who have parents,” the petition stated.

The Central government gives children with parents of OBC, SC/ST and below-poverty-line categories more state support and opportunities than it gives to orphans who are children without parents, the petition said, adding that orphans are as deserving of reservation in jobs and education as any OBC, SC/ST child with available parents.

“Various categories of benefits and support given to 70 per cent of Indian children with parents who are of the OBC or SC/ST or Below-Poverty-Line categories – such as pre-matric and post-matric scholarships, admission in private schools under RTE Act, tuition and coaching for competitive exams and job interviews, seed money for self-employment, loans at concessional rates, credit for budding entrepreneurs and above all reservation in education and jobs are not given to orphans, who are weaker than any child who has parents,” the plea stated.

The petition said it sought seeking justice for 20 million “weakest Indian citizens: orphans and children in need of care and protection”.

Shukla said the government should conduct a comprehensive census or sample survey of Children in Need of Care and Protection which is essential to fix the numbers and targets and outlays in government schemes as well as outline the extent of the problem.

The petitioner has also co-authored a book, titled “Weakest on Earth – Orphans of India” that was published in November 2015.