While informing the court of the progress of the search the state submitted that it was possible that the girl had eloped.
Mumbai: The Bombay high court has directed the state to change its mindset with regard to minor girls who have gone missing and not to assume that the girl must have been in a love affair and eloped.
The court passed the direction while hearing a petitioner who complained that though his minor daughter went missing in January 2017, the police failed to trace her. The court held that the police and state machinery treats missing complaints as a crime and does not consider the mental agony that the girl might be going through.
The court also said that in the event of the girl being forced to elope, the state and police should not only punish the boy but also those who harbour and help the boy.
A division bench of Justices S.C. Dharmadhikari and Bharti Dangre was hearing a petition filed by the father of a minor girl who had gone missing since January 25, 2017, praying for directions to the police and state to find his daughter.
While informing the court of the progress of the search the state submitted that it was possible that the girl had eloped. In the current case, the girl was allegedly having an affair with a boy from her school and was enticed by him to run away.
The state further said that the duo had been changing their location and hence the police had not been able to trace them. The state also said that the parents and family of the boy had been interrogated and they were not under any suspicion.
After hearing the submissions of the state, the court chided the state for assuming that the girl had eloped. “..let not the investigating teams and officials placed at the highest level treat this event as a love affair and a usual one where the girl child runs away with the boy she loves and particularly as depicted in a cinema or film on the screen,” said the bench.
The bench further said that such an approach of the prosecution machinery has completely frustrated the object of every legislation, be it The Juvenile Justice Act (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, or The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012.
After the additional public prosecutor assured the court that some positive change would emerge, particularly in the mind-set of the officials instructing him, the bench posted the matter for hearing after two weeks.