SC seeks Centre, states' response on missing children

SC seeks Centre, states' response on missing children

The Supreme Court on Thursday told the Centre and the state governments to file their responses to a PIL seeking capital punishment for offenders who kidnap children and proper mechanism to trace the missing children.

According to official figures, the number of missing children in 11 states in the country have exceeded 55,000 in the last three years.

A bench of justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai issued notices to various parties in response to the petition filed by advocate Sarwa Mitter.

Appearing for the peitioner, advocate Vikram Mahajan contended that the state police machinery has failed to rescue the children who are usually forced into bootlegging, smuggling and prostitution. In many cases, their organs are also traded, Mahajan said.

The petition also stated that the laws to shield the children, like the Children (Pledging of Labour) Act, 1933, the Commission for Protection of Child Right, 2005, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act and Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, have failed to serve their purpose.

A total of 1,77,660 children went missing between 2009 and 2011, out of whom 55,470 are still listed as untraced in 11 states, suggest Home Ministry records. Maharashtra leads the list with 13,099 missing cases, followed by West Bengal and Rajasthan with 11,527 and 11,000 cases respectively.

The petition sought direction to the officials concerned to constitute a committee to watch over the missing children and suggested death penalty for the kidnappers. It also urged that the chief secretaries and police heads be directed to file affidavits giving details of the FIR, as well as the progress in investigation of the cases.

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