The Supreme Court on Wednesday has directed the Gorakhpur Police (Uttar Pradesh) officials to hand over all the investigation records in the case of a 13-year-old missing girl to to the Delhi Police (Malviya Nagar Police Station) by tomorrow. This was in response to a habeas corpus plea filed by the girl’s mother, who feared her daughter has been kidnapped.
The three-judge Bench comprising Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice C.T. Ravikumar observed that importance should be given to missing child responding to submissions made by the Counsel appearing for Uttar Pradesh, who sought two weeks time to place case diary on record.
The apex court directed the Delhi Police Commissioner to oversee the investigation. The Copy of the order was directed to be forwarded to the Commissioner. The Bench further held that this direction shall not absolve the Uttar Pradesh police for continuing with the investigation and that it shall extend cooperation with the Delhi Police.
The habeas corpus petition has been filed by Amit Pai, AOR on behalf of the petitioner, a mother of a missing girl who has allegedly been kidnapped. The petitioner suspects that her daughter has been kidnapped by a man allegedly a Delhi Resident. The petitioner submitted that she is working as a domestic help in Delhi and went to Gorakhpur to attend a wedding with her family, from where her daughter been kidnapped. She suspects a man named Akash has kidnapped her daughter who has been chasing, luring and inducing her daughter for over some time and has also been repeatedly inviting her to his house in Chirag Delhi.
Will transfer matter to CBI if they (UP Police) can’t do the job: Supreme Court
Advocate Amit Pai assisted by Advocate Vara Gaur appeared for the petitioner in this case and informed the Court that the NCT, Delhi had been served. He requested for speeding up of the proceedings and that it was a non-adversarial issue.
ASG, Mr. RS Suri appeared for NCT, Delhi (Delhi Police). Advocate Anuvrat Sharma, appearing for the State of Uttar Pradesh submitted that he had placed a status report in the matter and that the police were trying to trace the girl. He submitted that she could be in West Bengal also. He submitted that the IO needs 2 weeks’ time.
The Court thereafter took exception to the fact that the petition was filed in July and that time is an important factor in this case. The Court reprimanded the Counsel for the delay and said that it would transfer the matter to CBI if they (the Uttar Pradesh police) can’t do the job.
The Court asked the Counsel for Uttar Pradesh to produce the entire case diary in the matter which the Court would like to peruse. Sharma said that he would place on record the updated case diary and that 2 weeks may be granted. The Court observed that the missing person is of 13 years of age and that that the extension of time was a very “casual reply” to the seriousness of the matter.
The petitioner, a household worker, has approached the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution seeking a writ of Habeas Corpus in respect of her minor daughter aged 13 years who has been missing since 8th July 2021. It is alleged that she has been kidnapped.
The petition seeks directions to the Respondents, i.e. Gorakhpur Police and the Delhi Police to trace the minor daughter of the petitioner. The matter requires immediate and in depth investigation to unearth the exact location and status of safety and security of the Petitioner’s minor daughter.
The petition states that the incident involves the two states of Uttar Pradesh and NCT, Delhi. It is alleged that the minor girl has been kidnapped by a person named Aakash from Gorakhpur. In this regard, the FIR was lodged with Gorakhpur Police and despite attempts, the Delhi Police has not taken any action.
Facts as alleged in the petition
The incident happened when the Petitioner and her family were visiting the husband’s hometown, Gorakhpur to attend a marriage ceremony. The petitioner has two daughters, the elder one being the victim of the alleged kidnapping.
It is contended that the alleged kidnapper has been chasing, luring and inducing by force and seduction the victim into repeatedly inviting her to his house. Further, that on a previous occasion, the victim was found at the alleged kidnapper’s place.
The petitioner had approached the Police Station, Malviya Nagar and informed them of Akash’s nefarious activities that included seducing the Petitioner’s daughter who is a minor as on date, stealing petrol and parts of cars owned by other people and also being a consistent drugs user. Subsequently, the police had also given a final warning to the alleged kidnapper upon this complaint.
It is contended that despite the warning, the accused continued to harass the petitioner’s family and pursue the 13 year old victim.
The kidnapping and subsequent events
On 8th July 2021, the younger daughter of the petitioner had last seen the victim. The younger daughter had seen the victim receive a video call from the alleged kidnapper and had in parts overheard him threatening the victim and coercing her into meeting with him. She also stated that the alleged kidnapper lured the victim to stay in a flat in Chirag, Delhi.
At around 12 PM, the younger daughter went to use the washroom. When she came out, she found that her elder sister was missing and immediately informed her mother of the same, and what she overheard.
Subsequently, on 9th July 2021, the petitioner lodged the complaint with PS Belipar, Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.
The Petitioner returned to Delhi and continued the search for her daughter. She again approached the same police station at Malviya Nagar, where the Petitioner had complained regarding the accused on a previous occasion.
It is the Petitioner’s case that the police refused to even take steps towards recording the Petitioner’s complaints on the ground that a prior FIR had been registered in Gorakhpur.
The Petition also states that a policeman, purportedly from the Delhi Police met with the Petitioner at her home in the second week of August, in which he gave an unverified recording of the minor daughter of the Petitioner on the mobile phone about her whereabouts, and that she is staying away from the Petitioner by her own will, with the uncle (Petitioner’s brother). However, it should be born in mind that the recording is not verified and the Petitioner states that her victim daughter is not with her uncle.
Concerns of the petitioner regarding her daughter
The Petition contends that her daughter was deliberately and knowingly kidnapped from the custody of the parents. It is also alleged that the accused is capable of inducing by force or by seduction, the victim to commit illicit intercourse with himself or by other persons, which is an offence defined under Section 366 and 366 A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
The Petitioner is also concerned about the fact that the victim may be amenable to be subjected to grievous hurt/slavery/unnatural lust of any person, as defined under Section 367 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Further, the victim may even be sold for either sex for the purpose of prostitution, illicit intercourse, or for any other immoral purpose. The said offence has been defined and dealt with under Section 372 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
The coercion of illicit intercourse may even be under the pretext of marriage or other alluring albeit false and/or illegal offer made by the accused which is punishable under Section 375(6) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
The aspect of common intention with other unknown accused is also not ruled out.
Hence, being aggrieved by the apathy of the police at Gorakhpur as well as in Delhi, the petitioner was constrained to approach the Supreme Court under Article 32.
The facts of this case are a testimony to the need of judicial intervention in the cases of laxity in investigation. This is just one of the many cases where the parents are under extreme anguish and suffering dur to the apathy of the police officials.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court has been highly appropriate to reprimand the Counsel representing the State of Uttar Pradesh when he sought time on the ground that the Investigating Officer needed two weeks’ time more.
In cases of kidnapping, especially that of a minor girl who is all the more vulnerable on account of her gender to be subject to immoral acts time is of essence. The police officials should be extremely sensitive to such cases and pursue them in all earnestness so that the petitioners such as the mother in this case do not have the need to approach the Constitutional Court seeking directions to the respondents to simply perform their duties.
Case Name- Neelam Kanojia Vs The State of Uttar Pradesh
AOR Amit Pai