Govts’ apathy over missing children shocks SC

The top court also criticises the entire police machinery, which has different sets of priorities for the rich and the poor

New Delhi : The apathy of state governments in handling cases of missing children came for sharp criticism on Wednesday in the Supreme Court which said the entire police machinery is pressed into service to trace child of ‘aristocratic person’ but no mandatory FIR is registered when kids of poor man goes missing.

“If the missing child is of an aristocratic person or when it comes to people with money, thousands of policemen are there and you trace the child in three days. But if the child of a poor man goes missing, police don’t even register FIR,” a bench headed by Justice H L Dattu observed and referred to a report about the tracing in three days a child who had gone missing from high-profile Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon.

The Bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde and A M Sapre, which was perusing the compliance of its earlier directions including mandatory registration of FIRs in the case of missing kids, was aghast to know that FIRs in many states was not in accordance with the number of missing children.

Further, it noted that some states have not bothered to comply with its guidelines to have each police station with at least one cop trained and designated as a Juvenile Welfare Officer to investigate crimes against children and there was also failure to appoint para-legal volunteer in shifts, in the police station to keep a watch over the manner in which the complaints regarding missing children and other offences against children, are dealt with.

The Bench, which for sometime examined the steps taken by Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat adjourned the matter for October 16 after Haryana Government drew the attention of the bench that six weeks time to file compliance report has not expired.

It was not happy with the affidavits filed by Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat.

Senior advocate H S Phoolka, appearing for an NGO, said since many states have not provided data, information on missing children have been secured from the records of Rajya Sabha questions and from the National Crime Records Bureau.

The court had passed a slew of directions on the PIL alleging that for over 1.7 lakh children have gone missing in the country between January 2008-2010, many of whom were kidnapped for trafficking in flesh trade and child labour.

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Free Press Journal