The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the four-member Juvenile Justice Committee of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to file a fresh report on the alleged detention of children by addressing the matter independently, Bar and Bench reported. Tuesday marked the third month since prohibitory orders were put in place in the region.
The court was hearing a petition filed by child rights activists Enakshi Ganguly and Shanta Sinha, seeking a probe on the detention of minors since August 5, when the Centre imposed curfew-like conditions in the state after revoking its special Constitutional status. The petition had cited a number of media reports, including those by Scroll.in, The Washington Post, Caravan, Quint and TRT World.
On September 20, the Supreme Court had directed the committee to file a report on the alleged detention of children. The committee submitted its report to the Supreme Court on October 1, relying on a police report. The director general of police “categorically denied the specific allegations made in the writ petition”, the juvenile justice committee noted.
The petitioners then filed a rejoinder on October 14 saying the Juvenile Justice Committee neither applied its mind nor did any judicial review.
On Tuesday, the court agreed with the petitioners’ submission and said: “What we feel is the report of Juvenile Justice Committee does not indicate application of mind with respect to facts stated in the affidavit.” The court told the panel to file a fresh report and adjourned the matter to December 3.
Before the submissions began in court on Tuesday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought to adjourn the matter to Wednesday because he had a matter in another court. Declining the request, the court said, “It has been three months since lockdown, cannot delay such important matters further.”
The police had admitted to arresting 144 minors, including children as young as nine and 11, since August 5. But they said many children were released on the same day. All children “found in conflict with law”, the police claimed, were dealt with “in consonance [with] the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2013”. The police had said media reports on minors being detained and lodged in police lock-up “in violation of law” were “found not factually true”. Such reports served “facts imagined from thin air” to create stories “which may have element of sensationalism”.
According to latest reports, at least 1,300 people continue to be detained in Jammu and Kashmir since August 5. Around 6,300 people, including politicians, had been rounded up in the last three months, according to a police report.
India had on August 5 rescinded the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution, paving the way for the creation of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. These came into existence on October 31.
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