Centre shifts kids' data blame

The Centre has blamed the states for the disparity in the figures of missing children that it submitted in the Supreme Court and Parliament.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 8.08.15
  •  

New Delhi, Aug. 7: The Centre has blamed the states for the disparity in the figures of missing children that it submitted in the Supreme Court and Parliament.

Additional solicitor-general Maninder Singh, appearing for the women and child development ministry in the Supreme Court today, apologised profusely and promised such discrepancies would not occur again.

The court asked him to be more careful in future, reminding him that "we are dealing with children and not figures".

Singh said the discrepancy occurred because the states gave the ministry data different from the numbers they had filed with the National Crime Records Bureau, without explaining why they would do so. The bureau, the country's crime data repository, relies on states for information.

"We are concerned with the lives of children. You cannot file figures you didn't crosscheck," the court said, accepting Singh's explanation.

"The discrepancy in the case of missing children is very unfortunate. The ministry should give high priority not just to the figures but also to the lives of these children. Unless these measures are taken, the ministry will not be able to track missing children," the court added.

In an affidavit it submitted in the court on April 20, the ministry had said 1.49 lakh children were reported missing between 2013 and 2015. Of them, 17.52 per cent still remained untraced, it said.

Three months later, on July 23, minister Maneka Gandhi told the Rajya Sabha in a written response that 1.67 lakh children were reported missing in the same period, and 48 per cent remained untraced.

The discrepancy came to light on July 31 when the NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan pointed it out during a hearing in the court.

Activists had pointed to the conflicting figures and said the ministry seemed uninterested in children's issues. Earlier this week, the bench had threatened to initiate contempt action against the official who had submitted the data in court.

Today, the court also touched on other related issues, asking the ministry why it had launched a new website, Khoya Paya, for missing children when a portal, TrackChild, already existed and wondered if this would lead to duplication of data. The ministry said Khoya Paya would complement TrackChild, offering users the option of regional languages.