The Centre and several state governments on Tuesday came in for sharp criticism by the Supreme Court for their failure to file status report on the issue of missing children with the bench saying that nobody seems to be concerned about them.
The apex court also came down heavily on the Chief Secretaries of Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu for their failure to comply with its order to be present before it today on the issue, observing that they are “playing the fool with the court” and threatened to issue non-bailable warrants against them.
The Bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir gave last opportunity to the Centre and the states which have not filed their affidavits on the matter and posted it for further hearing on February 19.
“Nobody seems to be concerned about the missing children. This is the irony,” the Bench also comprising Justices A R Dave and Vikramajit Sen said when senior advocate H S Phoolka, appearing for the NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan, stated that hundreds of children were going missing everyday.
The Bench was upset at the outset when it was told that Chief Secretaries of Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu were not present despite its earlier order.
Out of the five states whose Chief Secretaries were asked to appear, only the Chief Secretaries of Goa and Orissa were present.
“Why they are not present? Shall we issue non-bailable warrant? They are playing the fool with the court. They can't say they are indisposed. Don't play fools with this court. There was a direction, they had to be present here,” the Bench said when counsel for the Arunachal Pradesh government sought exemption from personal appearance of its Chief Secretary.
Similar remarks were made by the court for the non-appearance of the Chief Secretaries of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
The NGO in its PIL had alleged that over 1.7 lakh children had gone missing in the country between January 2008 and January 2010, many of whom were kidnapped for trafficking in flesh trade and child labour.
Quoting statistics including from National Crime Research Bureau, the NGO had said during that period, 1,17,480 children had gone missing in 392 districts in the country and out of these, 41,546 were yet to be traced.
The apex court disagreed with the reason of the Gujarat government that the Chief Secretary was recently appointed and, therefore, he could not appear before it.
“Whether he had taken charge recently, doesn't