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First 24 hours crucial for tracing missing child or person: Delhi HC

New Delhi: While dealing with a matter related to a missing minor girl, the Delhi High Court said that the first 24-hour period is crucial for tracing a missing person or child.
"There is no scope for any speculation or conjecture that the child may return home in 24 hours, and hence the police can wait. In fact, the first 24-hour period is the crucial period, when steps for tracing the missing person or child could lead to a positive outcome," the division bench of Justices Prathiba M Singh and Amit Sharma said on Tuesday.
The bench referred to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and directed, "All the police stations shall ensure that there shall be no waiting period for 24 hours in the case of missing children to start an inquiry or investigation."
"Accordingly, let the Commissioner of Police look at the matter and give directions to all police stations to ensure that the waiting period of 24 hours is wholly unnecessary and in fact, whenever a complaint is received, the inquiry, and investigation should immediately commence," the High Court ordered on July 9.
The High Court, after noting the submissions of standing counsel for Delhi police, has also transferred the present case to the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (Crime Branch), Delhi Police, who shall conduct an immediate and diligent investigation under the supervision of a senior officer not below the rank of an ACP.
The bench also directed the filing of a Status Report within a period of one week from today.
The matter has been listed on July 16 for a hearing.
The direction has been passed in a Habeas Corpus plea moved by the father of a minor girl who has been missing since February 2024.
It is the case of the petitioner that his daughter was missing on February 19, 2024, around 10:00 a.m.
It has been further averred by the petitioner that he immediately approached the Nangloi Police Station to complain but the Police instructed him to wait for 24 hours, presuming that the minor girl may return within that period.
Thereafter, the petitioner again approached the police on February 20, 2024, and a 'missing person report' was registered instead of an FIR being registered for the offence of kidnapping.
Advocate Manika Tripathy, along with Naveen K Saraswat and Rony John, appeared for the petitioner.

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