Recently, the Delhi High Court passed an order in a case concerning a missing person. The Deputy Commissioner of Police, Legal Cell in a status report submitted before the court stated that the System Integrator, M/s Tech Mahindra has developed and launched a web application and android mobile application to lodge online report of missing person including children. It was further submitted by the DCP that the service has been made available in the citizen service link on the website of Delhi police (www.delhipolice.nic.in). Through the link provided, citizens can either log in on web or download the mobile application to file a complaint using the newly launched service. Though the service is not present for the iOS users, it is planned to be launched within six weeks.
Direction of the Delhi High Court on a suo-motu petition:
The cases and the statements made therein to this effect was submitted by the Delhi Police before a Division Bench comprising of Justices Manmohan and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal.
The writ petition under which the case was filed is a suo motu writ petition and concerns the kidnapping of a person in August last year. Following the unfortunate incident, the mother of the kidnapped girl-child addressed a letter to the High Court. In her letter she clearly alleged one Matru and his associates responsible for the kidnapping of his husband. The letter by the Madhya Pradesh-based woman disclosed that her daughter was a domestic help at a house at Suvidha Kunj in Pitampura and has gone missing from there itself.
Earlier in this case, the PIL Committee directed the Deputy Commissioner of Police to submit s status report in the matter. The hearing in the court also unfolded non-registration of FIR as the FIR was only registered on December 28, 2018 but the kidnapping is said to have taken place on August 04, 2018. It came to the notice of the court that the wife of the kidnapped had made multiple representations to different departments of the Delhi Police, trying to reach up till the Commissioner of Police. Despite her scrupulous efforts, there was a delay in filing the FIR. All the representations made by his wife to police as well as the court had clearly mentioned the suspects as per her.
After going through the merits of the case, the Court held that the Delhi police so far has not taken any effective measure for tracing missing persons in the country. All it does is some cursory investigation in the matter. Even in the instant case, it got the notice of the concerned police authorities only after the High Court took up the matter suo-motu.
It was the direction of the High Court to take the system of filing FIRs in case of a missing person online or by way of SMS, e-mail or WhatsApp.The Court proceeded to direct the Delhi Police to consider registration of FIRs when it comes to missing persons online by way of SMS, e-mails, or WhatsApp.
Roadmap of the web and android application:
Thereafter, the Delhi Police presented before the court a proposal or a road map for the execution of the mobile-application. Firstly, it was brought to the notice of the court that the project is being undertaken by M/s Tech Mahindra at a total cost ranging between Rs. 8 lakh to 10 lakh. The deadline to make the web system functioning is of 90 days and for the mobile application would be another one month.
The roadmap as given by the Delhi Police suggested that the online filing of missing persons report on the website or the mobile application would require the complainant to fill all requisite details. Following which, a PDF report as per the details submitted will be generated and the same will be sent to the local police station or control room for their response. The procedure to be followed in the kidnapping of a child or juvenile up to 18 years and that of adults is different. In the former, FIR should be immediately lodged whereas in the later, only if there are specific allegations or suspicion of any foul play, FIR should be lodged. After having filed the complaint, the complainant can receive alerts on the mobile via notification for any progress made in the case. Moreover, apart from the complainant, the Assistant Commissioner of Police and the Station House Officer would also be able to see the status of the pending complaints, monitor them via their dashboards in the application.
As per the road map, after the report has been submitted, the computer application system then would generate a PDF report and forward it to the stakeholders for the initiation of the police response mechanism.
An FIR shall be lodged immediately for children & juveniles up to 18 years and in case of adults, an FIR shall be lodged if there are specific allegations or suspicion of any foul play. It also has the service for the Complainant of receiving alerts on his/her mobile about the progress of the case from time to time. The Assistant Commissioner of Police and the Station House Officer would be able to monitor the progress of the pending complaints and cases through their respective Dashboards in the application.
Speedy and Timely Resolution:
The court had suggested that the police stations while developing a model should follow the system by Anti Human Trafficking Units and Crime Branch. Apart from the model, they should develop a Standard operating procedure or some guidelines which will help in deciding upon the essential steps like flashing of message on wireless and uploading the information of the missing person on the ZIPNET. The view of the court in making such a suggestion is that when the process lodging of FIRs would be taken up online, it will avoid human interface which usually results in long delay and non-registration of FIRs. Therefore, any such chances of interference would be eliminated in the online process and thus will be a speedy way to get the case of a missing person registered immediately.
The Delhi Police was represented in the court by the Standing Counsel Rahul Mehra and Advocates Chaitanya Gosain. In the report filed by the aforementioned counsels it has been clearly stated that the provision of filing the complaint of a missing person through an online portal using the internet will ensure timely police response. This will take the service delivery closer to the Delhi citizens.