The high court has made it mandatory for the police in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to immediately register an FIR on receiving a missing child's complaint.
Earlier, the police were in the habit of recording a daily diary report (DDR) that too in a few cases because of which several missing children were not traced even after a long time. The division bench comprising chief justice (acting) Jasbir Singh and justice Rakesh Kumar Jain also ordered that the officers of the rank of inspector generals in Punjab and Haryana and of the rank of superintendent of police in Chandigarh would be appointed as nodal officers.
These officers would be responsible for co-ordination with various agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation's anti-trafficking unit and even with other states for monitoring such cases.
As per the reports submitted to the high court by the authorities concerned, of the 3,237 children, who went missing between 2009 and 2011 in Haryana, 1,517 were untraceable; in Punjab, of the 599 missing children, 544 remained untraceable and in Chandigarh, of the 286 who went missing in the same period, 131 were untraceable. Out of the untraceable children, 618 were girls in Haryana, 181 in Punjab and 64 in Chandigarh.
The high court directions came while disposing of a bunch of public interest litigations (PIL) filed by NGOs World Human Rights Protection Council and others. The NGOs had sought directions for formulating special cells at state/district level in which specially trained police officials should be posted for only dealing with missing persons' cases.
The bench also directed authorities to comply with directions issued by the Supreme Court dated November 14, 2002, in case of "Hori Lal vs Commissioner of Police, New Delhi."
The apex court's judgment had issued comprehensive guidelines for the investigation officers in missing children cases like publishing photographs of children in print media and telecasting it through electronic media within a week of receipt of complaints and pasting the photos at prominent places. Reward for giving clue in a missing girl's case should be announced within a month of girl's missing report.
The police commissioner/IG/DIG concerned would find out the feasibility of establishing multi-task force for locating girl child or women, the apex court had directed. Despite the Supreme Court's order, the two states and Chandigarh were not following the guidelines, resulting in an increase in untraced cases of children, the petitioners apprised the court.