SC directs states to register FIRs on missing children

SC directs states to register FIRs on missing children

In a landmark decision for the protection of children, the Supreme Court has directed all states to register FIRs within a month on the issue of missing children.

The apex court passed the order after listening to the detailed arguments on May 10.
According to government figures, during 2009 to 2011 a total of 2, 36, 014 children went missing and 75,808 are still untraced.  However, only 34,899 FIRs have been registered.

The decision came on a petition filed by a child rights group, Bachpan Bachao Andolan, on the issue of missing children and trafficking. A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and comprising Justices Vikramajit Sen and Sharad Arvind Bobde issued the direction that in cases where first information report has not been lodged, it should be registered with a month.

The apex court also held that all cases of missing children across the country to be registered as a cognizable offence and investigated.

The bench said in all missing children cases there will be a presumption of kidnapping or trafficking unless proven otherwise.

Each police station should have at least one juvenile welfare officer to investigate crimes against children, it added. Also, the National Legal Services Authority is directed to appoint one para- legal volunteer at every police station to keep a watch on the manner in which complaints about offences against children are dealt with.

The Supreme Court also said that a website should be developed to create a network between the central child protection unit and all state child protection units as well as district and city protection units. This will help in creating a data bank for crime against children. It added that a standard operating procedure must be developed to handle such cases.

The bench directed the state authorities to arrange for adequate shelter homes for the recovered children who do not have any place to go for the first three months.

Senior advocate H S Phoolka said, “Every hour, 10 children go missing. Of these only one case is registered and investigated. There is no hope for the poor parents whose children go missing.”

Kailash Satyarthi, founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan said, “It is a watershed moment not only in our three decade fight in restoring childhood but has also brought a fresh lease of hope.”

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