CHENNAI: Censuring the state for its lackadaisical approach in probing missing children complaints, the Madras High Court on Thursday ordered the Secretaries of the Home and Social Welfare departments and of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights to be physically present to explain the status of the cases registered. The division bench expressing disappointment observed that there is a lack of sensitivity among officials with poor upkeep of vital records in the cases.
The two-member bench comprising Justices M Sathyanarayanan and R Hemalatha passed the directions on a batch of pleas relating to missing children cases including the petition moved by the mother of a missing child in 2016.
During the hearing, the state on behalf of the social welfare department filed a detailed affidavit on the cases registered. However, the division bench, not satisfied with the report, observed that it was old.
Advocate T Mohan who had been appointed as Amicus Curiae in the suo motu PIL brought to the notice of the court that the Tamil Nadu Commission for Protection of Child Rights was headless and memberless for several months with no appointments made.
The judges taking note of the submissions pointed out to the state government pleader that a recent media report on foreign contributions to over 600 shelter homes in the South especially Tamil Nadu has revealed that they received funding up to Rs 6 lakh per child per year, much of which may not have been spent on kids at all.
Most of the scrutinised shelter homes were in Tamil Nadu, observed the judges.
The court observed, “There appears to be a lack of sensitivity among the officials that has resulted in several children falling prey to unauthorised and unregistered organisations that are operating without any rules.”
The bench also expressed its concern over authorities still being unaware of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 that has been framed for the protection of child rights.
The bench recording the submissions made by all the parties directed the secretaries of the departments concerned to be physically present by January 25 to explain in detail the progress of child missing cases.