To trace missing children, the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development has developed a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). The SOP has been done on the direction of the Supreme Court dated January 13, 2015 in the matter of Bachpan Bachao Andolan vs Union of India & Others through Writ Petition (Civil) No. 75 of 2012.
The Apex Court had directed the Ministry of Women and Child Development to take assistance of TISS to compile a model SOP that can be used as a uniform procedure throughout the country to trace missing kids. The SOP for tracing missing children is finalised in consonance with Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Model Rules 2016 and deals mainly with the tracking of missing kids and their rehabilitation after recovery.
The tracking of missing kids is the primary responsibility of police and the SOP clearly defines role of an investigating officer. There is a checklist for Investigating Officer also that provides a framework of actions, consideration and activities that may assist in performing competent, productive and thorough investigation in cases of missing children.
The SOP has been shared with all the Director Generals of Police and Principal Secretaries of States/UTs for further dissemination and use. Rule 92(1) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Model Rules 2016 defines a missing child as one whose whereabouts are unknown to parents, legal guardians or any other person or institution legally entrusted with his/ her custody, whatever may be the circumstances or causes of disappearance, and shall be considered missing and in need of care and protection until located or his safety and well-being established.