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Missing children: SC asks top Bihar, Chhattisgarh officials to appear

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New Delhi, Oct 16 :

The Supreme Court Thursday asked the chief secretaries and police chiefs of Bihar and Chhattisgarh to be present in the court Oct 30 to answer why they did not comply with its direction on the investigation and recovery of missing children.

Supreme CourtA bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice A.K. Sikri sought presence of the officials to know why the two states did not comply with its 10 directions issued in 2013 as steps to trace the children who have gone missing.

The court ordered this in the course of the hearing of a Public Interest Litigation by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan on the missing children and the inadequate steps being taken by the state governments for tracing them.

In the course of the hearing, Chief Justice Datu said that despite elaborate directions, a woman came to him crying that her child has gone missing and no steps were being taken to trace him. He said every day they read in newspapers and watch on TV tales about missing children. “This pains us.”

The 10 directions include registration of FIR of every missing child, a juvenile welfare officer in every police station, appointment of para legal volunteers, network of NGOs for tracing and reintegrating the missing children, photograph of found/recovered child to be taken by police, standard operating procedures to handle cases of missing children, an anti-human trafficking unit and the setting up shelter or aftercare homes for such children.

The court said that it would take two states at a time to examine whether they have complied with its directions.

Appearing for Bachpan Bachao Andolan, senior counsel H.S.Phoolka told the court that Chhattisgarh has reported 9,428 missing children in three years (2011-2013) but only 1,977 FIRs have been registered.

He told the court that these figures by Chhattisgarh conflicted with those given by the government in an answer to a parliamentary question which said that figures for three years were 10,664 and the number of FIRs registered were 1,634.

Bihar had recorded 2,036 missing children in last three years and the number of FIRs registered during this period are 1,180.

The court also issued notice to all states and union territories on the increasing drug abuse among school children across the country.

Bachpan Bachao Andolan has sought the formulation of a National Action Plan for Children on the drugs, alcohol and other substance abuse amongst children.

It also sought the effective implementation of the National Strategy Document and Action Plan against drug abuse in the country and incorporation in school curriculum modules to educate children to keep away from drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

The NGO said that this concerned the fundamental rights of children including right to life.

Pointing out that India was the home to 44 crore children – highest child population in the world – out of which over 24 crore children are adolescent, the Bachpan Bachao Andolan in its petition said that there was an alarming increase in the use of drugs, alcohol and other such substances amongst these children.

It said that according to 2005-06 National Family Health Survey, out of the boys in 15-19 age group who were surveyed, 28.6 percent reported using tobacco and 11 percent reported consuming alcohol. For the girls in this age group, the figures for are 3.5 percent for tobacco and 1 percent for alcohol.

The court has sought response to notice on or before Oct 30.

(IANS)