If Abandoned Kids Are Treated on Par with Orphans for Reservation Benefits It May Encourage Abandonment: HC

The Bombay High Court on Friday expressed its anxiety that if the Maharashtra government was directed to treat abandoned children on par with orphaned kids for reservation in educational institutions, then it might encourage abandonment, especially of girl children.

A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Neela Gokhale said a balance ought to be struck as the state government was not shirking its responsibility of taking care of abandoned children.

The court was hearing a petition filed by city-based NGO NEST Foundation’ and two adult abandoned girls challenging a government resolution that accorded reservation benefits in educational institutions to orphaned kids. The petition sought that the benefits be also extended to abandoned children.

The petitioner’s counsel Abhinav Chandrachud told the court on Friday that there was no difference between an orphaned child and a child who has been abandoned. “The Juvenile Justice Act does not create any classification then why the state government is creating a classification,” he said.

Advocate General Birendra Saraf told the court that if abandoned children are included in the ambit of the resolution, then it may create a situation where children will be abandoned just so that they have a better chance at admission to some institution.

“Orphanage is a matter of fact but abandonment can be created it happens… this is the sad truth. The government does not want to create such a situation,” Saraf said.

The bench agreed to this and said, “This is our anxiety too. It will encourage abandonment, especially of girl children. We need to find a balance.”

“We come across horrific cases where children are abandoned in railway stations. Then such children are taken to state-run shelters. The state government is not shirking away its responsibility of taking care of such children,” Justice Patel said.

Saraf said that the government would take care of such children till they attain the age of 18. “The government just cannot provide reservation to abandoned children. Everyone cannot be given reservation. Reservation is entirely a policy decision of the government,” he said.

The court then sought to know from Chandrachud if the court could direct the government to enact a certain law.

Saraf further told the court that the benefits of reservation would not be accorded to those orphaned children who have been adopted as the child now has parents and a family who can take care of them.

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Chandrachud told the court that the two girls wish to fill forms for admission to a medical undergraduate course and hence sought orders from the court that they be permitted to apply under the orphan category.

The bench, however, noted that it cannot pass such an order when the issue is pending before it.

“The issue of whether abandoned children are entitled to reservation along with orphaned children or to be treated as orphaned children for the purposes of reservation is under consideration. The matter is pending and no final decision has yet been taken,” the court said.

The bench said it was open for the girls to fill their forms and proceed with the procedure as they deem fit.

The court said it would continue hearing the matter next week.

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