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Supreme Court directs Govt. to Notify HIV-hit children as disadvantaged group

April,1,2017:

Such children are publicly ridiculed by School Authorities, humiliated and treated unfairly in schools.

Justice JS Kehar
Justice JS Kehar

In a remarkable step, the Apex Court on Friday ordered State govts to consider issuing a notification under the Right to Education law, declaring children living with or affected by HIV as a ‘disadvantaged group’ deserving additional rights to help them gain free & compulsory education, i.e. a fundamental right.

A Bench of CJI J S Khehar & Justice D Y Chandrachud gave States 4 weeks to issue the notification under the Section 2 (d) of The Right of Children to Free & Compulsory Education Act of 2009.

This mandates the State Govts concerned to issue a notification that a child belonging to a disadvantaged group based on various reasons ranging from caste, cultural, social, geographical, linguistic, gender etcetera.

This Act makes education compulsory for the children between 6 & 14 years age group.

The Bench ordered that the States which’re unwilling to issue a notification under the Section 2 (d) should file an affidavit “explaining why they consider it unnecessary” to inform that the children living with HIV don’t belong to a disadvantaged group. Court noted that at least 11 States have already issued the notification.

This order was based on a petition filed by the NGO Naz Foundation (India) Trust, represented by senior advocate- Anand Grover, which highlighted that HIV-hit children face denial of admission, outright expulsion, breach of confidentiality to being assigned chores like cleaning toilets.

According to NACO estimates in 2012-13, around 20,90,000 people were living with HIV in 2011. Children of less than 15 years of age account for 7% percent (i.e. 1.45 lakh).

The NGO argued that India has a substantial no. of HIV +ve children who’re of school going age & need to be in school since schools play a crucial role in improving the prospects of such children, give them higher self-esteem, better job opportunities, economic independence & create prospects for lifting children out of poverty.

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