To ensure children languishing in shelter homes are reunited with their parents, Delhi Police have issued a circular warning agencies of action if they don’t report such cases.
There have been instances of children in shelters being reunited with parents after years as the staff did not follow procedures or upload details of the missing kids on the portal.
The new circular says police or any other agency will be responsible if the details of recovered children are not circulated immediately.
“Despite provisions in the Juvenile Justice Act, it has been found that in several cases, the missing child is not restored to his/her guardians despite the child being recovered soon after going missing and lodged in a child care institution. This situation arises because the detailed information and photograph of the child is not uploaded on the prescribed portal and further because of apathy and clear lack of coordination between various agencies,” reads the circular issued by Taj Hassan, special commissioner of police (crime).
The Ministry for Home Affairs (MHA) had asked Delhi and other states to launch part two of Operation Smile where joint teams of state police and government will reunite families. During the operation, all children living in shelter homes, platforms, bus stops, religious places and footpaths have to be screened by trained police personnel.
“But the question is why these children are in shelter homes. As soon as they reach shelter home, the authority should check the record and reunite the child. It is because the agencies are not serious, most missing children continue to live away from parents,” said a senior police officer.
Last year in two operations 9,146 and 19,742 children were reunited with their families, respectively, across the country. This year too, before the launch of Operation Smile, police personnel from every state were trained to extract information from such children tactfully,” said Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini, an NGO working for child rights.
As per the Delhi Police circular, any violation will lead to imprisonment of up to six months and a fine of Rs 10,000. The circular says that any individual, a police officer, any functionary of any organisation or a nursing home, who is handed over a missing child, or a child who appears or claims to be an orphan, will report the matter in 24 hours.
They can report it on the Childline, or at the nearest police station, child welfare committee and District Child Protection Unit. Such children be also be handed over to a childcare institution registered under the JJ Act.