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Missing Children – Delhi High Court 2011

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NATIONAL LEGAL RESEARCH DESK

Court on Its Own Motion v State; W.P.(CRL) 249/2009 delivered on 16.03.2011.

The Court observed about the relevance of children in the society that “A child is a child despite the background for all purposes and no apathy by anyone can even remotely be shown for such an attitude is not countenanced in a society where the rule of law prevails. That apart, it becomes the duty of the member of a civilized society to see that the children are treated with care and nurtured with real concern. The authorities, who are in the realm of aforesaid, should apprise themselves that the slightest neglect of a child today will cause immensurable catastrophe to the posterity in future and in the ultimate eventuality, there may be a national disaster.”

In this case the statistics shown reveal that % of the missing children is increasing since 2006 through 2010, in all the age groups, viz. 0-8 years  (2% to 13%); 8-12 years (3% to 26%) and 12 to 18 years (5% to 26%).

The High Court of Delhi found it necessary as the police was ill equipped to handle such post recovery counseling and, therefore, suggested that services of the special wing namely “Special Unit for Women and Children” should be availed. It found as reported by the parents of the missing children that the police was not treating them with courtesy and sensitivity and children of the said parents were missing for more than six months and in some cases for more than two years. As per data total 682 children could not be traced till date.

The petitioner exposed the fact that there are gangs operating not only involved in trafficking of children but also in engaging the children as labourers without any payment and not allowing them any kind of freedom and the police is not carrying out proper investigation.

The High Court of Delhi gave following directions in the given issue: –

 (a) The recovered children should be produced on regular basis before the Member Secretary or the Officer on Special Duty or any other officer nominated by the Member Secretary including the impaneled lawyer.

(b) The Member Secretary or the Officer on Special Duty or the nominated officer shall over-see the examination of young children and try to find out the cause for the children going missing.

(c) Constitution of a Committee of counselors was directed to be done to counsel the parents to safeguard the recovered children from further trauma.

(d) The Police should keep track of the parents of missing children so that appropriate authorities could ascertain the real reason for children going “missing” and the problem could be adequately addressed.

(e) The Commissioner of Police should provide for sensitization of the ground level police officers so that they do not show any indifferent or unconcerned attitude either to the parents or to the children.

(f) The Secretary Education, GNCTD should issue a circular to all the schools situated within the territory of Delhi that children facing this kind of problem are treated with utmost sensibility so that they do not abandon education. Further, that efforts should be made by the school authorities to call the parents to apprise the need for education in the 21st century and the parental duty and the facilities provided by the government for such imparting of education.

(g) No school without appropriate, adequate and substantial reason would strike the name of a student knowing fully-well that the student is missing without prior approval of the Secretary, Department of Education, GNCTD because the Court had directed that a circular has to be issued protecting the interest of the children and also for parental guidance.

(h) The Nodal Officer shall see to it that the recovered children belonging to various age groups and with different backgrounds shall be produced before the authorities of DLSA so that a comprehensive view could be projected before the Court.

The Commissioner of Police should constitute a task force for proper investigation whether the gangs are operating in the field. In the said task force, certain responsible officers should be included in such force.

(i) The Deputy Commissioner of Police should over-see all investigations relating to missing children as it is stated before us that the children between the age of 3 to 8 are abducted and the sole purpose is trafficking.

(j) Regarding the tabular chart, the Commissioner of Police was ordered to scrutinize the same and make an endavour to engage more officers/officials so that the children are rescued. If a child, who is missing, is not rescued or found for a period of six months case should be handed over to the Anti Kidnapping Cell for effective investigation.

(k) The Commissioner of Police shall evolve a standard operating procedure especially meant for missing children when a report is received in the police station or in the Police Control Room about the missing children, and the same to be produced before the Court.

Court on Its Own Motion v State – Missing Children Case

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