NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday slammed the Centre for being insensitive towards protection of child rights and for its reluctance to take effective steps to recover missing children. It also criticized the government for falling foul of the law by its inability to set up an advisory board under the Juvenile Justice Act in the last 15 years.
With around 15 children disappearing every hour in the country, a social justice bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit said that the government was not serious towards the problem after the Centre failed to inform the court on how many children had been traced in 2014.
“How can you be so casual towards children missing in the country? This is a clear indication of government’s insensitivity towards the problem. It seems government is not bothered about missing children,” the bench said.
Data on missing children which was placed in Parliament last year showed that over 3.25 lakh children went missing between 2011 and 2014 (till June last year) at an average of nearly 1 lakh children going missing every year. 55% per cent of those missing were girls and 45% of all missing children had remained untraceable.
Maharashtra is among the worst states in terms of missing children with over 50,000 having disappeared between 2011-14. MadhyaPradesh,Delhi and Andhra Pradesh are distant competitors with all recording less than 25,000 missing children for the period.
The court pulled up the government for not appointing chairperson and other members of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) despite its direction to fill up the vacancies by March 31. The NCPCR is headless since October last year and posts of other members of the child rights body are vacant for the last one and half year.
Expressing concern over the Centre and states not appointing advisory board despite the law passed 15 years back, the court said that the country would be heading towards anarchy if the governments themselves did not follow law.
“What is the sanctity of law if you do not follow it? You cannot say I would follow the law if I want. What is the purpose of framing the law if you yourself don’t follow it? If that is the situation then we will be heading towards anarchy,” the bench said.
It slapped a fine of Rs 50,000 on Centre for not complying with its order for setting up of advisory board and filling up the vacancies in NCPCR.
Additional solicitor general Maninder Singh, appearing for the Centre, told the bench that the process for appointment was going on and applications were being shortlisted.