New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday pulled up the chief secretaries of Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Arunachal Pradesh for being indifferent to the plight of the missing children and choosing to ignore the orders of the court.
"What for are we passing orders?" a bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice Vikramajit Sen asked the three chief secretaries, who were present in the court on its Feb 5 orders.
Reminding the three that "it was not a normal practice (for the court) to call for chief secretaries", Chief Justice Kabir said: "In spite of our orders, he (chief secretary of Arunachal Pradesh) chose not to appear (in the court)."
Submitting to the court's displeasure, counsel for Arunachal Pradesh said, "It was a lapse."
As the three chief secretaries tendered apologies, the chief justice said: "We are dealing with a section of citizenry comprising 42 percent children. They don't matter to you?"
Referring to the statement of senior counsel H.S.Phoolka, who appeared for NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan, that 100 children go missing every day, the court said: "It does not matter to anybody. It is not important to them."
Pointing to the gravity of the situation, Phoolka said every day more than 200 children go missing and 100 of these children remain untraced.
Senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for Tamil Nadu, told the court: "We understand the delicate nature of the case. It is not a commercial case. We have filed our status report. It will never happen. What was required has been done and it will be done."
To counsel for Gujarat who said that the new chief secretary had taken over Feb 1, Chief Justice Kabir said: "We are not concerned with the present or future chief secretary. You tend to take it (missing children) casually. You are treating the orders (of the court) casually. Each one is cheating as if it does not matter to anybody."
Recording the apologies tendered by the chief secretaries and taking note of the seriousness of the matter, the court directed the listing of the matter for further hearing March 15.
The court is hearing a petition by Bachpan Bachao Andolan seeking formulation of a national action plan for the recovery of the missing children and prosecution of those involved in their kidnapping and trafficking.