SC tells states to provide status report on missing children

The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed anguish over the apathy of states in protecting children. It has now directed all states to adduce their status reports indicating the total number of missing children and progress in tracing them.

Data complied from 21 states and UTs point out that 1.421 lakh children are reported to be missing as on February 13. West Bengal topped the list with 1.22 lakh missing children followed by Delhi with around 21,000 children.

A Bench led by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir said: "This issue pertains to more than 42 per cent of India's population and the governments must give it the priority it deserves as the children cannot speak up for themselves."

While hearing the counsel of Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Orissa and Tamil Nadu, chief secretaries of these states had been summoned for not filing response to the PIL over missing children. The Bench said that despite its repeated directives, the states appeared to be unmoved.

" We have been asking all the states repeatedly but each state is treating this matter as if no one is bothered. They don't care and children don't matter at all," lamented the Bench, while heeding to a submission by senior advocate H S Phoolka that more than 100 children go missing every day.

Meanwhile, the Centre filed its affidavit in the PIL by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan, citing all the circulars, advisories and guidelines issued till date by the MHA and the Ministry for Women and Child Development.

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