Telangana High Court
Telangana High Court

Missing girls: HC gives Telangana two weeks to form welfare panels

The Chief Justice referred to a similar case in the Delhi High Court and directed the AG to get the material of the case.

HYDERABAD: Expressing concern over the future of thousands of missing children, the Telangana High Court on Thursday granted the State government two weeks to constitute child welfare committees in all the 33 districts.

It also told the government to appoint members to the committees and file a compliance report before the court. “Why is the Telangana government not doing the needful? Why is it exhibiting such laxity in implementing court orders? The government should know that it is dealing with girl children, who are the most susceptible and do not have a voice against their perpetrators who force them into prostitution. Unless the highest-level police officer monitors this issue, justice cannot be delivered to the missing children,” a division bench observed.

Impleading the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare as a co-respondent in the case, the bench directed it to take concrete steps on the issue. It also felt the need to give top priority to the usage of information technology (IT) in the case, and directed the authorities concerned to use IT for tracing missing girls. The bench told them to use facial recognition software in order to reunite the children with their parents.

The bench, comprising Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy, passed these orders in a batch of petitions which sought directions to the government to appoint a special police wing to reopen the cases of missing children across the State. The PIL, filed by Prajwala, an NGO represented by its general secretary Sunitha Krishnan, submitted that child welfare committees exist only in the 10 old districts. 

Child welfare committees do not exist in the remaining 23 new districts of the State, the PIL stated. As per Section 27 (1) of the Juvenile Justice Act 2015, the State government has to set up the committees. Replying to a query from the bench, State Advocate General (AG) BS Prasad informed the court about the usage of ‘Darpan’ software for facial recognition by integrating it with all the States in the country. He also said the State Director General of Police has filed a report in the current case.

The Chief Justice referred to a similar case in the Delhi High Court and directed the AG to get the material of the case. The Delhi High Court had issued a series of directions about facial recognition of missing children, and such orders should be incorporated in the current batch of petitions, she said. While closing some of the petitions, the bench suggested the counsels concerned to assist the court in the case for passing effective orders and posted the matter to April 15.

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