The Madras High Court has observed that the Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure should be amended to include man missing cases under this provision so that an enquiry could be conducted.
The bench comprising Justice N Kirubakaran and Justice Abdul Quddhose was considering a habeas corpus petition filed by a mother complaining that her daughter has gone missing, while it noticed that there is no provision in the Indian Penal Code for "man or woman missing". The bench expressed its amusement about how an offence which is not stated in Indian Penal Code has been invented by the Police officials and FIRs are registered.
During the hearing, the Assistant Solicitor General briefed the court about the scope of Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which deals with enquiry regarding suicide etc. He made a suggestion before the bench that the Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure could be amended to include cases of missing persons, so that an enquiry in man missing cases shall also be conducted under Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Referring to the provision, the bench said:
"From the above, it is clear that Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure speaks about suicide of a person or has been killed by another or by an animal or by machinery or by an accident, or has died under circumstances raising a reasonable suspicion of commission of offence by some other persons. After enquiry under Section 174 Cr.P.C, cases would be registered as either suicide or murder of a person. In man missing cases also, it is not known as to whether the missing person is alive or not and what are all the reasons for his disappearance. Therefore, Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure should be amended to include man missing cases under this provision so that an enquiry could be conducted"
The bench posed eleven questions to Union Ministry of Law and Justice, the Home Department of the State and Director General of Police:
• Is there any provision with regard to man missing cases in the Indian Penal Code? • If not in the Indian Penal Code, is there any other provision in any other Act? • Why not the Central Government amend Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to include the "man missing case" also within the scope of Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure? • .When the Government would bring out an amendment in 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure? • How many cases of "man missing" are filed in the past ten years in Tamil Nadu and throughout India? • How many persons have been rescued or found? • How many cases have been disposed? • What is the rate of conviction? • How many CSRs have been issued so far in Tamil Nadu for the past ten years? • How many cases have been closed after conducting enquiry or after issuing CSR? • How many complaints have been transferred as FIRs after issuing CSRs and conducting enquiry?
In this case, the court came down heavily on the police when it noticed that though the complaint has been received on 14.02.2019, till date, FIR has not been registered till date. It also added that it is shocking to note that young girls especially minors are eloping with married persons/aged person. It said:
"It is nothing but a deliberate failure on the part of the police officer which has to be deprecated. The police authorities should understand the pain and suffering of the parents and other relatives of missing persons, especially the girls. If the children of the officials or their relatives are missing, whether the officials would keep quiet without taking any effort. Probably, they would show interest only if prominent people go missing."
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