Free Press Journal

Bombay High Court voices concern for rise in ‘missing’ cases


Mumbai: Mumbai, the ‘city of dreams,’ houses more than 19 million people in its 603 sq km area. Lakhs of people from various parts of the nation come to Mumbai with dreams of getting a good job, a house to live in and most importantly a ‘good life’. The number keeps multiplying on a daily basis. The financial capital of the nation welcomes everyone with open arms.

But, surprisingly, this ever increasing population is looked after by the Mumbai police that have nearly 2 lakh officers in the force. The ratio of population and the police force speaks volumes and the same can be seen in the number of crime cases being registered on a daily basis.

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Apart from criminal cases, the city also records missing cases daily as hundreds of people — male, female, old and young — disappear. While some are traced and are re-united with their loved ones there are also some that go ‘untraceable’ forever. Family members of these ‘unfortunate’ ones keep running from pillar to post but mostly have to return disappointed.

According to official data provided by the Mumbai Police, a total 2,667 people have been reported to have gone missing from January 2017 to March 2017. Data reveal that 992 people are still untraceable. Many family members of the missing persons often blame the Mumbai police for failing to trace their dear ones. Several question the manner in which the police officers investigate missing cases but often their queries fall on deaf ears.

But this time, the question is raised by Bombay High Court and the officials of the Mumbai Police have no other option but to give a ‘clear’ answer. A Division Bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Sarang Kotwal have recently raised this question while hearing a case wherein a child has been missing since more than a year.

The judges have asked the police to spell out the manner in which they go about in cases of missing persons. The judges have also asked the police to answer what all they do to trace a missing person and if there is a separate wing in each police station to look after such cases.

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The judges were informed by a public prosecutor that Missing Persons Bureau – a dedicated website is being run by the Mumbai police that deal with the cases of missing people irrespective of the place from where the person is missing in the country. The major focus of this unit is to trace the missing children and women.

However, the judges expressed their dissatisfaction on this and suggested to come up with some comprehensive plan. The judges were irked by the rising number of missing cases especially those wherein the case have not moved an inch further.

Justice More said, “This is certainly not the manner to function as the existing machinery is not sufficient. Such cases need to be dealt with seriousness. You cannot keep filing reports of what steps are being taken to trace a person.”

“If you do you work properly then no family would be compelled to file writs in this court seeking directions to you. There must be some central agency that would be dedicated only to investigate missing persons cases. You should get instructions on this in the next hearing,” Justice More said.