Srinagar: The Supreme Court of India has granted further time to J&K government to comply with its directions regarding registration of First Information Report (FIR) and Shelter Homes for missing children in the state.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Chief Justice H L Dattu was hearing a PIL by Bachpan Bachao Andolan, founded by this year’s co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize , Kailash Satyathi.
In the PIL, the court had issued a slew of guidelines in 2013 and the latest hearing was to examine the extent to which states and union territories have complied with them.
“Insofar as the State of Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, we grant another four weeks’ time for compliance with our orders and directions, dated (January 17, 2013 and May 10, 2013),” said the bench, also comprising Justices Madan B. Lokur and A.K. Sikri.
In its order 17 January 2013, the apex court had issued two interim directions by making mandatory recording of FIR with regard to missing children and, setting up of Special Juvenile Police Units, in accordance with the provisions of Section 63 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, as amended in 2006 (Referred now as the “Juvenile Justice Act”).
The court had also asked State government to ensure that there is one officer of the Special Juvenile Police Unit stationed at every police station, in accordance with the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007.
On 10 May, 2013, the apex court directed that in case a missing child is not recovered within four months from the date of filing of the FIR, the matter may be forwarded to the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit in order to enable the Unit to take up more intensive investigation regarding the missing child.
The Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, court said, shall file periodical status reports after every three months to keep the Legal Services Authorities updated.
It may also be noted that, in cases where First Information Reports have not been lodged at all and the child is still missing, an F.I.R. should be lodged within a month and further investigation may proceed on that basis, the court had said.
Once a child is recovered, the court had said, the police authorities shall carry out further investigation to see whether there is an involvement of any trafficking in the procedure by which the child went missing and if, on investigation, such links are found, the police shall take appropriate action thereupon.
“The State authorities shall arrange for adequate Shelter Homes to be provided for missing children, who are recovered and do not have any place to go to.
“Such Shelter Homes or After-care Homes will have to be set up by the State Government and funds to run the same will also have to be provided by the State Government together with proper infrastructure.” Such Homes, court had said, should be put in place within three months, at the latest.
“Any private Home, being run for the purpose of sheltering children, shall not be entitled to receive a child, unless forwarded by the Child Welfare Committee and unless they comply with all the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, including registration.”
As per petitioner, the number of children missing in India was almost 90,000 every year, with more than 30,000 remaining untraced.
As the term ‘missing children’ had not been defined in any statute, the cases were not being handled properly and the fate of the children hinged on the whims and fancies of authorities, it said. The statute recognised only abduction and kidnapping, the BBA said.
The petition said the missing children were being exploited as labourers, commercial sexual workers and in an adoption racket. It sought a direction to the Centre, the States and UTs to come out with a national action plan; to treat the kidnapping or trafficking in children as a non-bailable and cognisable offence and to prepare a national database on missing children.