A bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Bharati Dangre observed that it was "unfortunate" that parents of missing children were being forced to approach the court for help which meant the police was not doing enough.
"In a city like Mumbai, several children are exploited after they are removed from the lawful custody of their parents. These children can be forcibly involved in several illegal activities. The investigating machinery must be able to assess the situation for itself and thereafter, take the corrective steps," the bench said.
It is unfortunate that the parents of missing or lost children have to approach this court, it said.
"This only indicates that the persons who are working in the police force are either inefficient or insensitive," the bench observed.
The observations came while the bench was hearing a petition filed by a city resident in January this year.
As per the plea, the petitioner's minor daughter went missing nearly 10 months ago and a police complaint was registered almost immediately. The police, however, have failed to trace the girl so far.
The police, in-turn, told the court that the petitioner's husband had abandoned her last year, moved to Uttar Pradesh, and married another woman there, and it was likely that he had taken his daughter with him.
In an affidavit submitted before the court, the police also said that some officers were sent to UP to interrogate the husband but he had got a job somewhere in the Middle East, and thus, could not be contacted.
"We are hardly impressed by this report (affidavit). For all we know the investigating officer is clueless. There are several ways to involve a child in illegal activities: to force him or her to work in a factory, or some industry, or even as a domestic help in the country or abroad.
"These illegal activities might be carried around the slums where the petitioner stays and thus, in such circumstances, to solely indict the husband of the petitioner in the case shows lack of proper investigation," the bench said.