Standard Operating Procedures for tracing missing children was developed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, as per the direction of honorable Supreme Court dated on Jan 13, 2015. WCD Ministry has developed it in the matter of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), Indian Based Movement campaigning for the rights of children vs. The Union of India (Writs Petition, (Civil)). Ministry of WCD have complied a model of SOP utilized by all states and Union Territories to deal with the cases of missing children and to follow a uniform procedure throughout the country.
In rule of 92 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Model Rules, 2016, has laid down a procedure of inquiry regarding a missing child. Model Rules 2016 defines a missing child as – ‘a child whose whereabouts are not kenned to the parents, legal guardian or any other person or institution legally entrusted with the custody of the child, whatever may be the circumstances or causes of disappearance, and shall be considered missing and in desideratum of care and protection until located or his safety and salubrity established’.
The main objective of this Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) anticipates availing police, Child Welfare Committee and Juvenile Justice Board dealing with the cases of missing and found are recuperated children. Also, to ensure that appropriate and timely care, protection, attention is provided to victims and witnesses. It is generally stated that missing children are usually who are separated from their parents/guardians/stakeholders. SOP also includes its concerns in setting out the cognation to those children who are found/traced by the police, Child line, CWC or any other organization till their parents/guardian/family is traced and the child is restored.
The primary responsibility of the police is to track the missing children. It also defines the responsibility of Investigating Officer. The SOP has been shared with all the Director Generals of Police and Principal Secretaries of States and Union Territories for further use.
The systems of SOP is to obviate further victimization of missing children and ensure appropriate and timely protection, and attention provided to victims and witnesses.