KOZHIKODE: The High Court order that all the orphanages in the state should come under the Juvenile Justice (care and protection of child) Act has far-reaching impact on child protection as 1000-plus private orphanages in Kerala are enjoying immunity from the Act.
These orphanages altogether have more than 50,000 children and no government machinery including Child Welfare Committee (CWC) has any access to them.
“The verdict is positive according to the UN convention on the rights of child,” said Shoba Koshy, the chairperson of state commission for protection of child rights.
But all the orphanages in other states have registered under the JJ Act except Kerala. Moreover, the verdict will pave the way for these children being considered for adoption procedures.
In Kerala, more than 700 prospective parents are waiting for kids whereas there are only 25 legally fit children for adoption. This glaring gap could be bridged by exposing them for adoption, foster care, sponsorship etc.
“The crux of the JJ Act is that children would be provided with family atmosphere. The Act underlines that the institutionalization should be the last resort for a child,” pointed out K.K Subair, district child protection officer at social justice department.
The Association of Orphanages and Charitable Institutions has been against the JJ Act arguing that they had no sufficient number of children. The association’s stand was largely supported by the government due to political reasons.
Association secretary T.K. Pareekutty Haji said that they did not welcome JJ Act but orphanages and other charitable homes (supervision and control) Act of 1960.
In 2007, though the government launched ‘Sanadha Balyam’ programme to provide alternative parenthood to all orphaned children, it failed due to the non-cooperation of private orphanages. Even while resisting JJ Act, these orphanages have been receiving a monthly government grant of Rs 800 per children.