Aadhaar cards being issued to children in homes: State tells High Court

The Social Defence Department has informed the Madras High Court Bench here that it had taken steps to issue Aadhaar cards by photographing 32,772 children and obtaining biometric details of 27,554 of the 32,903 inmates of 594 childcare homes. These included children housed in 236 unauthorised institutions in 13 districts under the territorial jurisdiction of the Bench.

In an affidavit filed before Justices S. Nagamuthu and M.V. Muralidaran, Deputy Director of Social Defence S. Thanasekarapandian said arrangements had been taken to provide Aadhaar cards to all children above six years in the homes. A majority of them had already been subjected to iris and fingerprint scanning.

As for shifting children lodged in unauthorised homes to other authorised homes or uniting them with their families after ascertaining their parentage through DNA tests was concerned, the official said moving them immediately would hamper their education.

There were 348 registered childcare homes and 246 unregistered homes in Dindigul, Kanniyakumari, Karur, Madurai, Pudukottai, Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga, Thanjavur, Theni, Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Tiruchi and Virudhunagar districts as on November 11, when the High Court took note of the issue seriously and called for a report.

As many as 135 childcare institutions applied for registration between November 11 and 24 to the District Child Protection Units (DCPU) concerned. Of them, 62 proposals were forwarded to the Director of Social Defence who, in turn, passed orders according sanction for registering 37 institutions up to November 20.

“Action is being undertaken to accord sanction for the remaining 25 institutions. Scrutiny of the remaining 73 applications is being undertaken by the DCPUs concerned for forwarding the same to the Director of Social Defence,” the Deputy Director said, adding 103 illegal childcare homes had not applied for registration.

Six illegal childcare homes were closed down between November 12 and 24 and two others had given an undertaking to surrender all children in their custody pending registration of those homes. The official further claimed that out of 236 missing children, 220 had been united with their families under ‘Operation Muskaan.’

Similarly, out of 14 missing children hailing from other States, 12 had been united with their families. “Details of children in all homes have been uploaded on the child tracking website www.trackthemissingchild.

gov.in,” he claimed.

As for the court’s direction to consider the possibility of creation of a DNA bank with blood samples of missing children as well as their complainants in child missing cases to ascertain the parentage of inmates of child care homes, the Deputy Director said that steps were taken to prepare a blueprint for the creation of such a system.

“It requires the coordinated effort between the Social Welfare Department, Medical and Health Department, Law Department and others. Since various departments are involved in the preparation of the proposal, I humbly plead to accord us a workable time limit to prepare a detailed proposal and submit the same before this honourable court,” the officer said.