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The Delhi High Court has rapped the city police for not taking appropriate action on a complaint filed by a man whose wife had gone missing, saying it was "very regretful" that the grievances of "poor people" go unheeded.
A bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and P S Teji ordered the Delhi police commissioner to initiate disciplinary action against erring police officials, including the then SHO of the police station concern.
The bench was critical of the approach of the Delhi Police in dealing with complaints filed by "poor people".
"It is very regretful to state that a common man on the street has no voice, and very often complaints made by poor people such as the petitioner, who serves as a private guard earning a paltry amount of Rs 8,000 or 9,000 per month, go unheeded.
"Had the police acted swiftly on the petitioner's complaint in the present case, may be the situation would have been different," it said.
The bench observed that the man and his wife have a son, who is now five, and he was left without the love, care and attention which he is entitled to, of his mother.
"It is squarely the lapse on the part of the police, which is responsible for the present state of affairs in the present case," it added.
The court in its order noted that the report filed by the police stating that the matter, which had been sent to senior officers for taking action, amounts to lip service only.
It said the then station house officer of the Safdarjung Enclave police station was trying to protect the erring police officers.
It directed the police commissioner to take steps to sensitise the force to be more responsive to complaints received from the public, and not trash them without taking action merely because the complainant is "not a man of means, or has no social standing or connections".
The court made the observations during a hearing on a plea by a Delhi resident, who works as a private guard, and has lodged a missing person's report at the Safdarjung Enclave Police Station in August 2016.
He even gave the complete particulars of the person with whom he thought his wife had gone, including his name and mobile number.
"Despite the said complaint being lodged, no steps were taken by the Delhi Police to locate the missing wife. It was only after the court directed the cops to take action and file a status report that the missing wife was located," the bench noted.
It later found that she had started living with another man out of her own will and had also converted to Islam. She also revealed to the court that she had performed 'nikaah' and was pregnant.
"The wife stated that she wanted to continue living with the man with whom she had eloped," the bench noted and said that under the circumstances, no further orders were required to be passed as far as the present writ petition is concerned.
The petitioner stated he would take steps to seek a decree of divorce.