The Supreme Court on Friday said it was satisfied with the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Juvenile Justice Committee report saying no minors were under illegal detention in the region, PTI reported.
A bench headed by Justice NV Ramana said that it would not be proper if the court does not believe its own judges. They said four high court judges visited all the jails in Jammu and Kashmir and have clearly stated that no minors were under illegal detention after the Centre scrapped the erstwhile state’s special status under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
The top court was responding to a petition filed by child rights activists Enakshi Ganguly and Shanta Sinha, seeking a probe on the detention of minors since August 5. The petition had cited a number of media reports, including those by Scroll.in, The Washington Post, Caravan, Quint and TRT World. A committee chaired by Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey, and composed of three other high court judges, was assigned by the Supreme Court to ascertain the veracity of the reports.
Ganguly’s counsel Huzefa Ahmadi insisted that he should be given time to respond to the committee’s report. However, the top court directed them to approach the appropriate forum if they have any additional material to prove the alleged illegal detention of minors in Jammu and Kashmir.
“It is undisputed that 79 children were detained under Section 107 of CrPC,” Ahmadi told the bench, also comprising Justices Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai, LiveLaw reported. “These are children who were detained. What threat will they cause. They aren’t stone pelters. This was preventive detention. Public Safety Act does not apply to minors.”
“But they were released the same day,” Gavai said in his response. “Are you aware what 15 year olds are capable of doing these days?” He said he would go by the findings of the committee and not those of international media.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta questioned if a woman sitting in Delhi can decide what is happening in Jammu and Kashmir, referring to the petitioner. “It would hamper the image of judiciary if this bench was to go into it,” Ramana said, adding that they found nothing adverse in the report.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police had admitted in October that 144 juveniles “in conflict with law” were arrested and said almost all of them were released either on the same day or after a brief period in observation homes. They added that 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”.
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.