New Delhi: Supreme Court on Friday warned the government it would initiate contempt proceedings against an official for giving "misleading" information on the number of children missing across the country, saying the figure given in a Minister's reply in Rajya Sabha was different.
"We are not going tolerate this. Either Navin Yadav, Under Secretary (the Ministry of Women and Child Development), is misleading the court or the Hon'ble Minister is misleading the House.
"There cannot be any explanation. Ideas can change but the numbers cannot. Somebody is misleading. I don't think the Minister is misleading. It seems Yadav is misleading this court," the social justice bench, comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit, said.
The court's observations came when a lawyer, representing NGO 'Bachpan Bachao Andolan' who has filed the PIL on the issue of missing children, pointed out that the Minister, in reply to a question in the Upper House, had said that "79,721 children have gone missing during 2013-2015".
However, the Ministry of Women and Child Development, in its affidavit filed in the apex court on April 27, said that 25,834 kids went missing during 2013-15, he said, adding that the difference is "glaring". This was acknowledged by the court.
During the hearing, the bench also expressed displeasure over the government for not being able to implement the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.
"This is a clear indication of a complete lack of sensitivity and the apathy that the Ministry has for children and also a complete disregard for the law enacted by the Parliament. We expect the Ministry to wake up and take stock of the law enacted by the Parliament," the court said.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, sought some more time to respond to the pointed queries of the bench.
The court then adjourned the hearing to August 7, but asked the Centre to pay Rs 25,000 as fine to the Supreme Court Legal Services.