The Supreme Court today said that a girl, who went missing from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh in July and was later found by the Delhi Police earlier this month, is “still a minor” as per the report of age determination received from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.
The Supreme Court was informed by the counsel appearing for the Delhi Police that as per the medical report, the girl is not pregnant.
A bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar took note of the submissions of senior advocate KV Viswanathan, who was earlier nominated by the top court to appear for the girl as she was not represented before it through a counsel, regarding compliance of guidelines and standard operating procedure (SoP) for dealing with cases of missing children which were issued by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2016.
Mr Viswanathan told the bench, also comprising justices Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar, that there are several guidelines and protocols in place in this regard and the Uttar Pradesh government and Delhi government should be asked about it.
The bench said Mr Viswanathan has made “valuable suggestions” in the note and compilation submitted by him and these may be considered as future guidelines to the concerned states and can also be of general nature which can be followed by other states and Union Territories.
It asked the states of Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to submit their responses with regard to action taken in reference to the standard operating procedures published by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in November 2016.
“The response regarding action taken report and compliances of the requisite mandatory steps be placed on record by the two respondent states (Uttar Pradesh and Delhi). Depending on the responses, the court may consider passing further directions as may be necessary,” it said.
“We have heard counsel for the parties and perused the report regarding age determination received from the AIIMS which indicates that the girl in question is still a minor,” the bench said in its order.
The bench said that the ministry be impleaded as a party in the matter as its presence may be appropriate for issuing further directions, as may be necessary.
The Supreme Court, while posting the matter for further hearing on October 20, said that Delhi Police would continue the investigation in the case and take it to the logical end.
At the outset, Additional Solicitor General RS Suri, appearing for Delhi Police, said that as per the medical record, the girl is not pregnant and the report of age determination has been sent directly to the court.
Mr Viswanathan said the girl was recovered after two months of lodging of an FIR in the matter and there are guidelines and protocols to be followed in such cases which came into being after the Supreme Court order passed earlier in another matter.
“The first issue is, what is the relief that can be given to salvage the situation. Tell us that first,” the bench observed.
Mr Viswanathan said the two lawyers assisting him had interacted with the girl and she should continue to remain in the home where she is.
Advocate Amit Pai, appearing for the girl’s mother who had filed a petition seeking directions to the UP Police and Delhi Police to trace her daughter, said the report suggests that the minor is not pregnant.
On September 14, the Supreme Court had directed the AIIMS to give report on determining the age of the girl, who went missing from Gorakhpur since July 8 and was later recovered by Delhi Police.
Mr Pai had earlier told the bench that according to her mother, the girl is aged around 15-16 years while in Aadhaar, her age is mentioned as 13.
The top court had on September 7 handed over the investigation of the case lodged in Uttar Pradesh to the Delhi Police which had recently recovered her and arrested the alleged abductor.
The mother, who works as a domestic help in Delhi, has claimed in her petition that her daughter was believed to have been kidnapped from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh by a man when her family members had gone there to attend a marriage ceremony.
In her petition, the girl’s mother has sought directions for carrying out investigation into the disappearance and kidnapping of her daughter and take appropriate action against those who may be found involved in this.
The habeas corpus petition, seeking to produce the girl before the court, has alleged that despite an FIR being lodged at Gorakhpur and an attempt being made to make a complaint with the Delhi Police, no action was taken to trace the minor.
It claimed the man, who was suspected to have kidnapped the girl, was constantly luring and coaxing her to accompany him