Cops’ ingorance of how to handle lost child shocks court

July 9th, 2008 - 11:51 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 9 (IANS) The judge at a city court Wednesday was shocked to realise that some police officials did not know the rules to be followed when they come across a lost or an abandoned child. The court was hearing the case of two-year-old Pratik who was spotted by the police in 2004 and handed over to a child welfare organisation. The police did not even try to look for his parents.

A family later adopted the boy but four years later his biological parents traced him and approached the court to have him restored to them. The boy was finally reunited with his parents after the court’s intervention.

Additional District Judge Surinder Singh Rathi has now asked the commissioner of police to direct the joint commissioner of police to inquire about the police force’s ignorance of the rules to be followed in the case of an abandoned child. The police ignorance was clear from the reply the officials sent to the court, the judge observed.

The court also asked the director of prosecution why the police officials were ignorant of the rules and regulations that were laid down in 2000 and also what steps they were planning to take to educate police officials in such matters.

The court had in March allowed the custody of Pratik to Dinesh and his wife Babita, instead of industrialist Anil Jindal who also runs a school in Delhi.

The organisation from where Jindal had adopted the child also drew the court’s ire. “It is high time that lessons were learnt or else children would continue falling prey to unscrupulous elements,” the court said, expressing displeasure over the adoption process.

The court also pulled up the police training school at Jaroda Kalan, asking it why the rules were not known to police officials.

“Take this particular case as a test case and teach them (police officials) about the rules and regulations to be followed in case they find an abandoned child,” said the judge while posting the matter for July 17.

Pratik was lost when he was playing in Matiala area of Uttam Nagar.

Dinesh Sharma, a truck driver, kept searching for him until he learnt that the child had been handed over to the Bal Bihar Orphanage Centre in Palam.

In his petition for Pratik’s custody, Sharma said he married Babita in 2001 and his son was born the next year - the couple also had a daughter later.

On Feb 18, 2004, while playing in front of his maternal grandmother’s home at Uttam Nagar, the boy lost his way and went missing.

Sharma contacted various authorities and ran from pillar to post to trace his son, but in vain. Somebody from Matiala, meanwhile, informed him that Pratik was first kept in a police station for a day and later sent to the Bal Bihar Orphanage Centre.

When Sharma contacted the orphanage, it allegedly refused to hand Pratik over to him. Instead, the boy was given to the Jindals.

Through their counsel, the Jindals told the court they took good care of the child.

The court then came down heavily on police and said: “The manner in which the case was handled shows that the agencies which are bound to safeguard the interest of such destitute and lost children have not only failed in their duty but are also aiding and abetting illegality… This appears to be a classic example of a system’s failure to come to the rescue of a child, who accidentally got separated from his parents.”

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