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Covid orphans: Delhi High Court defers hearing to September 21

The Division Bench led by Chief Justice D.N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh directed the Centre and the Delhi Government to bring on record the response filed by them and slated the matter for further hearing on September 20, 2021.

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The Delhi High Court on Wednesday deferred to September 20, hearing on plea for safeguarding the interest of the children who have lost their parents to Covid-19, and who do not have anyone else to take care of them and face the risk of being trafficked.

The Division Bench led by Chief Justice D.N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh directed the Centre and the Delhi Government to bring on record the response filed by them and slated the matter for further hearing on September 20, 2021.

The petition by a practising advocate Jeetender Gupta further prays for granting appropriate financial compensation to the family members of people who have lost their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic, after being denied access to adequate health care infrastructure/facilities.

The plea alleges that there has been a complete collapse of health care infrastructure in the capital during the second wave of Covid-19 in India, starting from April 2021, due to gross negligence and failure on the part of the Centre as well as the Delhi Government to contain the spread of the deadly virus. This has resulted in untimely death of thousands of citizens in the NCT of Delhi who were affected by the Covid-19 virus, the plea adds.

The plea avers that the respondents have violated the Article 21 of the Constitution by ignoring and compromising the safety and security of the general public.

Relying on various media reports, the plea highlights that some of the families have lost their sole earning members; and that many children who have lost their parents during Covid-19 are also facing a risk of being trafficked.

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The Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh had earlier sought response of the Centre, the Delhi Government and the Delhi Police on the matter.

The Apex Court is seized of similar issues. Recently, the top court, in a petition by two practicing advocates, directed the Centre to frame guidelines on providing ex-gratia assistance and compensation to the families of people who died due to Covid-19. Also, the Supreme Court has taken suo motu cognizance for protection of children who became orphaned since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, wherein the States and Union Territories were directed to identify children who became orphans or lost one parent since the outbreak of the pandemic.; and to file an affidavit stating steps taken for protection of such children.

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