Sikkim High Court: The Division Bench of Biswanath Somadder, CJ. and Meenakshi Madan Rai, J. issued certain directions in the matter of a PIL concerning missing children in the State.

In the earlier hearing, the Bench had ordered the concerned State authorities, through the Additional Advocate General, to complete the process of installation of CCTV cameras in the remaining seven (7) Police Stations and report compliance on the next date. The Court found that the State authorities have complied with the directions of this Court insofar as installation of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in the Police Stations and also in the Check-Posts within the State of Sikkim.

Coming to the main issue the Additional Advocate General informed the Court that there were at present thirteen (13) missing children and the concerned State authorities were taking steps to trace them out. Amicus – on the other hand – submitted that the concerned authority of the State was required to furnish quarterly reports to the State Legal Services Authority of Sikkim in compliance with the directions of the Supreme Court.

The Court issued the following directions keeping in mind the facts and circumstances of the instant case:

(i) The concerned authority/authorities of the State shall trace out the thirteen (13) missing children as expeditiously as possible and positively within a reasonable timeframe;

(ii) The concerned authority/authorities of the State shall file quarterly reports with the office of the State Legal Services Authority of Sikkim with regard to the status of investigation regarding the thirteen (13) missing children and the steps being taken in order to trace them out. Apart from this, the quarterly reports shall also give full details of any incident of any child going missing in the days to come for which immediate action shall be initiated by the concerned State authority/authorities in accordance with law. We make it clear that even if the missing children are traced, that should not be the culmination of investigation. The process of finding out as to why they actually went missing shall continue till the concerned authority of the State is clearly able to establish the actual reason thereof.

(iii) At any time, in future, if the learned Amicus Curiae is of the opinion that this Court’s jurisdiction in respect of missing children is required to be invoked again, he is at liberty to do so.

[Missing Children, In Re., 2022 SCC OnLine Sikk 27, decided on 07-04-2022]

For Petitioner : Mr Tashi Rapten Barfungpa, Amicus Curiae, Mr Hem Lall Manger

For Respondents 1-7 : Mr Sudesh Joshi, Addl. Advocate General, Mr Thinlay Dorjee Bhutia, Govt. Advocate, Mr Yadev Sharma, Govt. Advocate, Mr Sujan Sunwar, Asst. Govt. Advocate

For Respondent 8 : Mr N. Rai, Sr. Advocate, Ms Tara Devi Chettri

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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