ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) has taken up a constitutional petition urging it to order the federal and provincial governments to treat the case of ‘missing children’ as a cognisable offence.
The three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, started hearing a constitutional petition, filed by an NGO, Roshni Research and Development Welfare, against the disappearance of thousands of children in the country every year.
The petitioning organisation was established in 2006 for the recovery of missing children.
Clubbing the matter with another similar case, the bench fixed the matter to be heard at the apex court’s Lahore registry. According to the applicant, several thousand children disappeared every year in Karachi alone.
Police, it said, refused to register a case, contending that the disappearance of a child was not a cognisable offence. Therefore most times, such matters were relegated to entries in the daily diary and no effort was made to locate missing children.
Most of the disappeared children were used by unscrupulous elements for various illegal, inhuman and immoral purposes by criminals, the petitioner stated.
Citing examples, the petitioner stated that babies as young as a few weeks old were sold off for adoption. Toddlers, it stated, were also used as beggars across the country.
Between 5,000 and 6,000 children disappeared in Karachi alone, the petitioner stated, but police entered only 3,000 such events in their daily diaries. Police, it stated, reacted when a case was taken up by the media or parents of the missing child “for ransom”.
The situation in other provinces was equally horrendous and there was a dearth of the court’s interference. According to the petitioner, the organisation had successfully recovered and reunited as many as 4,832 lost children. Most of the children, the petitioner stated, were recovered from Karachi and other districts in Sindh.
The petitioner requested the SC to direct the federal and provincial government to amend relevant laws. Urging the apex court to set up special courts for tackling such cases, it also requested the court to order the federal and provincial governments to recover all missing children.