Supreme Court of India delivers a landmark judgement on missing children

Demands a status report in 3 months

May 10, 2013, New Delhi

In a petition filed by Bachpan Bachan Andolan (BBA), the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India passed a landmark judgment in the issue of missing children. The bench headed by Hon’ble Chief Justice of India Mr. Justice Altamas Kabir comprising of Hon'ble Mr. Justice Vikramajit Sen and Hon'ble Mr. Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde has taken the issue of missing children very seriously in the light of the facts presented before it by Bachpan Bachao Adolan. The Hon’ble Court took into congnisance that in 2011 alone 90,654 children went missing with 34,406 children still remaining untraced. However only 15,284 FIRs were registered and investigations were launched.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court made a special mention of the efforts of petitioner BBA, Mr. H.S. Phoolka (Senior Advocate) and other advocates while issuing the following directions:-
  1. Compulsory registration of cases by police of missing children with the assumption that they are victims of kidnapping & trafficking.
  2. Compulsory registration of cases by police of all those children who are still untraced (in 2011 34,406 children are still untraced).
  3. Police will prepare standard operating procedures in all the states to deal with the cases of missing children.
  4. Appointment and training of Special Child Welfare officers in every police station to deal with the cases of missing children.
  5. Police will maintain records of recovered children along with photographs and Ministry of Home Affairs to facilitate the maintenance of records of missing children.
The Hon’ble Court has defined missing children as “a person below 18 years of age whose whereabouts are not known to the parents, legal guardians or any other person who may be legally entrusted with the custody of knowing the whereabouts/well being of the child whatever may be the circumstances/ causes of disappearance. The child will be considered missing and in need of care and protection, until located and/or his/her safety/well being is established.”
Commenting upon many other suggestions made by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and National Legal Service Authourity (NALSA), the bench remarked “A specific investigation should be conducted if a missing child is recovered to ascertain the involvement of organised gang in trafficking and child labour.”
Mr. Kailash Satyarthi, Founder, BBA 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 for hundreds of thousands of missing children and their hapless parents, whose cries remained unheard due to the absence of legal protection and apathy of enforcement machinery. Our argument that children do not disappear in thin air but go missing because of an organized nexus of traffickers and mafias, has been finally upheld by the highest court of the land today”.
He further said, “BBA will rigorously follow the enforcement of this landmark judgment and extends its support to the government in this regard".