The second wave of Covid-19 has been full of pain and turmoil for Indians. Children, too, aren’t eclipsed from the ongoing catastrophe. To add to this, the news circling various platforms is sinister and horrifying. At present, the country is witnessing the petrifying state of the rising cases of Covid-19, and the frightening instances of assault and violence.
With the rising number of deaths due to Covid-19, Twitter and WhatsApp are flooded with citizens sharing details of children who have lost their parent/s to the disease and pleading for them to be adopted. You must have come across such posts yourself. However, you would be shocked to know that such posts appealing for the adoption of children orphaned during Covid-19 are illegal.
Yes, you heard it right. Such posts are illegal under Sections 80 and 81 of the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act, 2015, which prohibits offering or receiving children outside the process laid down under the Act, and their sale and purchase. Such acts are punishable with three to five years in jail or a fine of Rs 1 lakh.
Suppose you’re sharing a post or story requesting people to adopt children whose parents have died due to Covid-19 by specifying their details, you’re “offering” children to be adopted outside the process laid down by the JJ Act. In that case, you’ll be held liable and prosecuted. If you’re on the “receiving” end, which means that you have seen these posts and instead of dialling 1098 and intimating them or any other child welfare committee, you initiate the procedure for adoption of such children, which is not as per the process laid down by the Act, you’ll be prosecuted as well.
Chairperson of Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Anurag Kundu, wrote to Delhi Police Commissioner, flagging such posts as possible cases of trafficking and requesting for a probe in each of these instances. Yes, your intention may not be wrong. Still, you’ve no idea the kind of heinous crimes you might be letting yourself into and endangering the life of an innocent child. You’re indirectly facilitating the process of human trafficking.
Citizens must dial helpline 1098 to pass on information about children in need of care and protection. 1098 is a pan India Child Helpline number. We understand how strenuous the situation is. However, it is always appreciable to help the children the right way in order to ensure their safety and happiness.