The Supreme Court of India on Friday pulled up the Central Government for its lackadaisical approach in tracking missing children and imposed a fine on the Ministry of Women and Child Development for not complying with its directions. The Ministry is imposed a fine of Rs.50, 000 which is required to be deposited with the Legal Services Authority.
The Social Justice bench of the SC was hearing a writ petition (PIL) filed by the NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan. The bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit was extremely dissatisfied with the attitude of the Ministry and the responses of Addl. Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh. According to the bench, "Children are missing in the country and you (Centre) cannot be so casual in your approach. Your secretary is just writing letters. We are extremely dissatisfied".
The bench also expressed disgust over the issue of non-filling the vacancies in the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), including that of the Chairperson which has been vacant for over 6 months! The bench said that "As regards the appointment of Members of the NCPCR, it appears that no steps have been taken in this regard as yet. We direct the Secretary in the Ministry of Women and Child Development (Nodal Officer) to take steps in this regard within a period of 30 days so that the process of appointment of Members of the NCPCR is also concluded expeditiously”.
Another issue over which the bench slammed the Centre’s attitude was regarding the efforts of the Delhi University’s (DU) Faculty of Management Studies in improving the website www.Trackthemissingchild.Gov.In. The judges criticised the government for not giving enough financial support for the efforts of the DU in developing this important website.
The bench also received negative response when it asked about the status of setting up advisory boards under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, which it had directed the Centre on an earlier occasion. The ASG informed the court that some states had constituted the boards and stated that the Central Government is currently pursuing the matter with other states. The ASG also lamented that the states were not giving the required information to the Centre. On behalf of the bench, Justice Lokur responded back to the ASG using the following words, “Fifteen years had passed after the law came into force. But you (Centre) have not implemented the law. You are saying you are pursuing with the states? You have to get it done. These children are missing and you show utter disregard. You are just writing letters to the states”.
This issue is really critical and steps need to be taken by the Central Government in this regard very soon. The data on missing children which was placed before the Parliament last year showed that over 3.25 lakh children went missing between 2011 and 2014. According to the report, 55% of those missing were girls!
The bench has summoned the Secretary of the Ministry to be present on the next day of hearing on i:e May 1st, 2015.
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