SC raps government on discrepancy in figures on missing children

New Delhi, July 31 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday took exception to huge discrepancy in the number of missing children given to it and those placed in parliament, saying such a situation would “not be tolerated”.

The apex court’s social justice bench, comprising Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, imposed a fine of Rs.25,000, to be paid to the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee.

Observing that “ideas can change but numbers can’t change”, the apex court said somebody was “misleading” the court.

“I don’t think the minister is misleading parliament. It seems under secretary in the ministry of women and child development, Navin Yadav, is misleading the court,” the court said.

The court’s strong disapproval came after counsel for the petitioner NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan, which filed the public interest litigation, told the apex court that the union minister for women and child development had told the Rajya Sabha that 79,721 children had gone missing during 2013-2015, whereas the ministry’s affidavit in the court put the figure at 25,834.

He dubbed the gap as “glaring”.

Asking officers who filed the affidavit to be on the guard, the court said that cost on any misleading affidavit in future would be recovered from the officer filing it.

Referring to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, the Supreme Court said none of its mandate was being implemented by the government.

Flaying the government’s lackadaisical approach on its implementation, the court wondered why it was there at all.

“This is a clear indication of a complete lack of sensitivity and apathy the ministry has for children and also a complete disregard for the law enacted by parliament. We expect the ministry to wake up and take stock of the law enacted by parliament,” the apex court said.

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