SHC rejects police report on progress in missing children cases

Court orders fresh report to be submitted by March 22

Our Correspondent February 23, 2018
Government questioned about efforts to recover missing minors. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: Expressing its concern over police authorities' failure to recover 13 children missing from Karachi for months, the Sindh High Court (SHC) has directed them to submit a report on the progress in the cases.

A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto, told the police senior superintendent, who has been appointed by the inspector-general of police to supervise the cases of missing children, to submit the report by March 22.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by a children rights group, Roshni Research and Development Welfare, seeking recognising the disappearance of children as a cognisable offence and registration of FIRs of such offences across the province.

During an earlier hearing, the petitioner had produced a list of 19 children who were missing and sought direction for the senior police officials to locate them. The missing children included Kubra, Muslim Khan, Rabia, Gul Sher, Ibrahim Javed, Bocha, Muhammad Adnan, Muniza, Noor Fatima, Saima, Abdul Wahid, Muhammad Haneef, Sania and Sohail Khan.

On Thursday, an SSP informed the court that the IG had nominated him in place of SSP Muqaddas Haider to get FIRs regarding the children’s disappearances registered at the concerned police stations.

IG is least bothered about missing children, observe judges

The officer filed a report on behalf of the IG, who stated that six out of the 19 missing children had been safely recovered and maintained that efforts were being made to recover the others.

However, the judges countered that three of the six children had returned home themselves, without any efforts by the police.

Expressing their concern over the serious issue of missing of the children, the judges noted that the police had recovered only three children despite the lapse of several months.

Justice Abbasi observed that security measures should be put in place so that children could live safely in the city. Rejecting the police officer's report, the bench directed the IG to ensure that the remaining children were recovered at the earliest. Ordering the submission of a fresh progress report by March 22, it further directed that modern technology could be used for this purpose.

SHC directs Sindh IG to use technology to recover missing children

Case history

For nearly six years, the judges have time and again issued orders and directives to the provincial home secretaries and IGs to take steps for the recovery of missing minors.

The case has been heard by different judges, including the provincial chief justice, on 41 occasions since the petition was filed on January 17, 2012.

Roshni Research and Development Organisation, a non-governmental organistion working for child protection and safety, is litigating to get the disappearance of children recognised as a cognisable offence and subsequently FIRs in this regard should be registered in Sindh.

"Some 5,000 to 6,000 children go missing every year," said lawyer Naveed Ahmed. He said that the police used to record complaints about missing children in their daily diary at the police station instead of registering an FIR.

Advocate Ahmed argued that if a missing child was not rescued within 48 hours, the police should register a kidnapping case and investigate the matter according to the law.

He had been pleading to the court to issue directions to the home department, IG and other respondents to submit a report on whether complaints of missing children were registered and investigated and order special training of the police to deal with such cases.

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