The Delhi High Court has directed Delhi Police to submit a status report, at least once every month, before the trial court in a case pertaining to a young man who has been missing since January 2019.
The said order has been passed by the Division Bench of Justice Manmohan and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal in a habeas corpus petition.
The present habeas corpus petition was filed by the father of the missing person, citing deep distress caused to the family due to the disappearance of his child.
The Petitioner approached the High Court in face of alleged continued inaction of the police.
'The Petitioner and his family members are tired of visiting police station again and again but here seems no ray of hope for the petitioner and his family members', the petition states.
The issue regarding delay in investigation has also been pointed out by the court on its order.
The Bench did recognise the fact that it took 6 months for the police to even register the FIR on the complaint highlighting unusual disappearance of a young man.
During the course of the proceedings, multiple status reports were filed by the police which highlighted the concerning nature of the said disappearance.
During the investigation, while looking into the Call Detail Records (CDR) of the missing person, the police identified multiple men who had got in touch with the missing person through a gay dating app called Planet Romeo.
Later, in the status report filed on March 04 2020, it was informed to the court that the missing person used to frequently leave his house on the pretext of going to his job, but in fact, he was actually meeting multiple people through the Planet Romeo app.
It was also mentioned in the said status report that the missing person did not inform his family about either leaving his job or his other whereabouts. Moreover, he had even travelled outside the city for meeting persons believed befriended through the said app.
In its previous order, the court had directed the police to get more information from the Planet Romeo app. In compliance of the same, the police informed the court that it would require 6 months to get any information from the said app as the International Letter of Request needs to be filed after obtaining order from the concerned court and permission from the Directorate of Prosecutions, Tis Hazari court.
It is also significant to highlight that the Planet Romeo app, which is based out of Netherlands, had asked the police to approach the Interpol.
During the proceedings, it was highlighted by the Petitioner that the disappearance of son can be linked to the gangs that operate on the gay dating apps. He argued:
'The missing person might have been forced to do illegal activities by gangs, which are operating to extort money from people after gay-sex.'
While the court has transferred the case to the Crime Branch, and has also directed the police to file status reports before he concerned trial court, no conclusions or observations have appeared on the Petitioner's argument on the targeting of young men by gangs operating on gay dating apps.
The court has neither severely reprimanded or penalised the concerned police department for causing such an inordinate delay in the lodging of the FIR. This is concerning as the police has not provided any cogent reason for causing such a delay.
What also should be looked at is the lack of commitment shown by such online portals in providing immediate assistance in the investigation.
The current procedure for obtaining information from dating apps such as Planet Romeo, is too cumbersome and time consuming. This really jeopardises both the remedy sought as well as the evidence that can be produced before the court.
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