Delhi HC recommends action against cops for laxity in probing missing girl case

The Delhi high court has directed the Delhi Police commissioner to take action against his officers for their failure to investigate the case of a minor girl going missing in July. She was rescued from Hathras in Uttar Pradesh, only after her mother moved a habeas corpus petition before the court on September 21 seeking to know the whereabouts of the girl and a direction to the police to produce her.

Police submitted before the court that the girl was living in Hathras with a man who “married” her in February, but since she was only 16 years of age, that marriage was not valid and his action amounted to criminality. He was hence arrested and sent to judicial custody. The girl is now three months pregnant, the court was told.

A bench of justice Vipin Sanghi and justice Rajnish Bhatnagar said it was “not only anguished, but also disgusted at the manner in which the police conduct investigations in such cases, particularly when it involves the poor of society”.

While noting that the mother was a house help, the court said it was because of her profession that her complaint/FIR was neglected and not acted upon with the urgency that it deserved.

“We direct the commissioner of police to take serious and effective action against the police personnel concerned, who were recalcitrant and failed to perform their duties in the case. The action taken against those found guilty of negligence and dereliction of duty should be such that it sends a message to the entire police force. Let the copy of this order be placed before the commissioner of police, Delhi, for his knowledge and compliance,” the court said in its order dated September 29, while also seeking a status report from the police.

The court was hearing a habeas corpus plea filed on September 21 by the mother of the girl who went missing on July 27. In her plea, the mother contended that despite her registering an FIR on July 28 at the Trilokpuri police station, her daughter was not found or rescued.

In a status report, the police had told the court on September 23 that a man had claimed that he got married to the girl in February in Ghaziabad.

Appearing for the Delhi Police, standing counsel of the Delhi government (criminal) Rahul Mehra and advocate Chaitanya Gosain submitted that the date of birth of the girl has been verified from school records – which shows that she is only 16 years of age (as on Wednesday); and that she gotten married to the man on the basis of the date of birth given in the Aadhaar card – which is not correct.

On September 29, the police filed a status report that the girl was rescued from Hathras and that she is three months pregnant. The police said she was housed at a Nari Niketan (women’s shelter home) and the “husband” was sent to judicial custody.

The girl told the judges on September 29 that she did not want to go with her mother and would rather stay at the Nari Niketan even though her mother insisted to take her daughter along.

Following this, the court said she should continue to be housed at the Nari Niketan and that she should be provided counselling, considering the fact that she is pregnant so that she is able to take responsible decisions with regard to her pregnancy.

The court, while passing the order, said it was only when this petition was preferred and it directed transfer of the investigation to Anti Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) (Crime), that the girl was rescued and the man apprehended from Hathras.

“This delay on the part of the police in carrying out effective investigation has ruined not only the life of the girl but also the man and put in dark the future of the child that the girl is carrying,” the court said while ordering an inquiry in into the alleged police inaction.

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