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Determining Reservation Benefits for ‘Abandoned’ Children

Last Updated on September 20, 2023 by News Desk

Issues:

The Bombay High Court has framed four crucial questions to address the constitutionality and legality of whether ‘abandoned’ children can be classified as ‘orphans’ for the purpose of granting them reservation benefits in education and employment. This decision arises from a petition by the NEST India Foundation, seeking certificates declaring two girls as abandoned children and requesting equal reservation benefits for them as orphaned children.

1)Is the exclusion of abandoned children from the government resolution (GR) providing reservation benefits to orphaned children discriminatory and thus unconstitutional?

2) If the GR is deemed unconstitutional, can the term ‘orphan’ be expanded to include ‘abandoned,’ and is such an interpretation allowed?

3) Does the GR discriminate between institutional and non-institutional reservation categories?

4) Can provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act (JJ Act), which does not address reservation, be used to broaden the definition of ‘orphan’?

    Reasoning:

    A previous bench noted that the JJ Act makes no distinction between abandoned and orphaned children, initially disagreeing with the State government’s stance that reservation benefits for orphaned children cannot extend to abandoned children. However, it also shared concerns that parents might intentionally abandon children to exploit reservation benefits, particularly for girls.

    The Court decided that this matter requires thorough examination and framed these questions for further discussion. The case will be scheduled for a final hearing in due course.

    Arguments:

    At first, it disagreed with the State’s view that orphaned children’s reservation benefits couldn’t extend to abandoned children. However, it shared the State’s concern that parents might intentionally abandon children, especially girls, to gain reservation benefits if such benefits were created for abandoned children.

    As a result, the Court determined that a thorough examination of the law on this matter is necessary and committed to conducting this examination when it hears the petition in its entirety.

    Conclusion:

    The Bombay High Court’s decision to address the issue of reservation benefits for ‘abandoned’ children alongside ‘orphans’ underscores the importance of equal opportunities in education and employment. The court’s forthcoming ruling will have significant implications for the rights and opportunities of such children, highlighting the need for a fair and just resolution.

    Written by — Athi Venkatesh A.V.D

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