The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday issued a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government on a petition related to illegal detention and torture of juveniles during the anti-Citizenship Act protests in the state, reported Live Law.

A division bench, led by Chief Justice Govind Mathur, has asked the Uttar Pradesh government to file a counter affidavit, establishing statutory compliance with the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, in all districts of the state. The plea, filed by non-organisation HAQ Centre for Child Rights, alleged that several minors were detained and tortured by the police.

The plea had urged the court to seek an action taken report from the Uttar Pradesh government, listing out the measures and steps taken since December 2019 to make sure that children are not harmed during their detainment in the course of protests.

The High Court said that instead of restricting the reliefs to the districts of Muzaffarnagar, Sambhal, Lucknow, and Bijnor, as cited in the NGO’s plea, the state government should inform the court about status and compliance under the Act in all the districts, Bar and Bench reported. The Bench also highlighted the need for a committee to monitor the Juvenile Justice Act’s implementation.

According to a fact-finding report, “Brutalizing Innocence” prepared by the NGO, nearly 41 minors “have been detained and subjected to custodial torture, criminalization and post custodial coercion in UP”.

The High Court will next hear the matter on December 14.

The Uttar Pradesh government had in March approved the UP Recovery of Damage to Public Properties Ordinance, 2020, to recover damages to government and private property during political processions.

The Citizenship Amendment Act provides citizenship to refugees from six minority communities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who have entered India on or before December 31, 2014. The Act, passed on December 11, has been criticised for excluding Muslims. In December, at least 28 people died in protests against the Act, 19 of them in Uttar Pradesh itself. Most of those who died had suffered bullet-inflicted wounds.

The government’s critics fear that the law, along with the citizens’ register – which will be used to identify undocumented immigrants – will be used to harass and disenfranchise Muslims.