Delhi police, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation and Central Industrial Security Force today faced the wrath of Delhi High Court which did not mince words to target them for their "failure" to locate a 17-year-old deaf, dumb and mentally challenged girl for almost three months.
A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Nazmi Waziri took strong objection to the agencies passing the buck and said "If we go by the news reports, you all (the agencies) need to be booked. It is high time someone took you to task."
"You have been failing in your duty," the court said while terming the administration's attitude of passing the buck as "apathy."
The bench directed the agencies to work in "coherence" and give wide publicity about the girl in the media, form a special investigation team and search for the girl who went missing from a metro station here in April this year.
Justice Mridul said the police did nothing and remarked, "I would like to see what they (the officers in DMRC, Delhi police and CISF who responsible for the security) do, if something happens to their own offsprings."
"The apathetic attitude must come to an end else we can't call ourselves civilised. If this is your attitude, then we don't need you. We will escort our daughters and sons everywhere. Leave us to ourselves. Don't become an epidemic," the court said.
It also said the police was giving an impression that only affluent can have access to security.
The court, thereafter, directed a Delhi Police officer of the rank of DCP, DMRC's Chief Security Commissioner and an Assistant Commandant of the CISF to appear later in the day, asking them to come up with a roadmap, saying "citizens must be secured in the city."
"We are shocked to read that the police could do nothing as it was on VIP security," Justice Mridul said, adding that "We are mistaken that the government is for the people."
Justice Waziri added that "the Citizen is the VIP."
"The time has come for you to deliver on your slogans. Tell us whether you can do it. This country is still governed on constitutional mandate," the bench said.
Later in the day, all the officials called by the court jointly submitted that they have zeroed down on a 15-point action plan including constituting a SIT and giving wide publicity about the girl in the media.
They also submitted that they would search all hospitals, NGOs, trauma centres, red light areas, traffic junctions and other possible places where she might be.
"The girl stayed at the metro station for over five minutes. The CCTV footage clearly shows that she was wandering. You had the information that a girl was missing. Tell us who is responsible for all this mishappening and what action has been taken against him," the bench asked after going through the CCTV footage.
It also took strong objection to the report that the victim's mother, on approaching the police, was told to go home and told that her daughter would reach there by herself.
"She was told so because she belonged to a 'jhuggi' and poor strata of the society. Try telling this to the officer of the higher strata," the judge said.
The court directed the three agencies to file their progress report by Monday.
After going through the record, the bench also wondered how the girl could exit the metro station as she did not have a ticket. "What was the person, who was supposed to be at the exit, doing," it asked.
At this, the counsel for the DMRC said "there was nobody at that time."
"Is this how secure the metro is? A young girl goes missing and you are only running around," the bench remarked.
The bench was hearing a habeas corpus matter initiated by the court itself after it came across a news report that a speech-and-hearing impaired 17-year-old girl had gone missing on April 21 after getting separated from her family and exited at the wrong station.
The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which is tasked with the security of metro stations, had told the bench that as per CCTV footage, the girl had exited the AFC gates by "tailgating" another passenger as the sensors on the AFC gates do not detect when two persons exit in such a manner.
On April 21, the woman was travelling with her family and could not get down with them at the Jahangirpur Metro Station. As per the CCTV camera footage at the next metro station at Adarsh Nagar, the woman had got down and exited the station but has been missing since then.
The woman's mother was quoted in the report as saying that they were returning home from LNJP Hospital after a routine check-up of the woman when she had gone missing.