SC chides Centre, states for inaction over missing kids

The Supreme Court on Tuesday chided the Centre, as well as the states of Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Arunachal Pradesh, for being “casual” on the issue of missing children.

A bench, presided over by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, expressed displeasure over the failure of the chief secretaries of the three states to appear before the court despite directions. “Nobody seems to be concerned about the missing children. This is the irony. Despite our January 17 order, the said three officials have once again thought it fit to treat the matter with extreme casualness as if the order passed by this court has no meaning,” the bench said.

The court’s observation came after senior advocate H S Phoolka, appearing for NGO “Bachpan Bachao Andolan,” submitted that around a hundred children went missing in the country daily. He said Chandigarh, Delhi, West Bengal among others were yet to file their response on a PIL seeking framing of a standard operating procedure for missing children cases.

The bench, also comprising justices J Chelameswar and Vikramjit Sen, had earlier directed the chief secretaries of Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Arunachal Pradesh, Orissa and Tamil Nadu to be personally present on February 5. “Although, the writ petition involves a matter of some concern regarding missing children, different states have failed to treat the matter with the seriousness it deserves,” the court had said.

Barring Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Arunachal Pradesh, all other chief secretaries concerned turned up. “Why they are not present? Shall we issue a non-bailable warrant? This court can be very soft and at the same time very tough. They are playing fool with the court.
They can not say they are indisposed. Don't play fools with this court. There was a direction, they had to be present here.”

The court ordered their presence on February 19.  Additional Solicitor General A S Chandhiok, appearing for the Centre, said,  “We had asked the states to bring compliance report in their responses with regard to advisory issued by the Home Ministry.”

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