J&K: SC seeks report from HC’s Juvenile Justice Committee on alleged detention of children

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New Delhi, September 20: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Juvenile Justice Committee of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to submit a report on alleged detention of children in Kashmir due to restrictions imposed by the authorities after scrapping of crucial provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution last month.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi—which had on September 16 sought a report from the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Justice Gita Mittal on allegations about children being detained and people being unable to approach courts in the state—said the allegation was not true.

“We have received a report from the chief justice (of J&K HC), which does not support your statement,” the Bench told senior counsel Huzefa Ahmadi, representing child rights activists Enakshi Ganguly and Shanta Sinha.

The Bench—which also included Justice SA Bobde and Justice S Abdul Nazeer—however, agreed to entertain the petition regarding alleged detention of children as it raised “substantial issues” regarding rights of minors and there were conflicting reports about ground situation.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said one such case of detention of a person mentioned in the petition had already been referred to Juvenile Justice Committee after he was found to be a minor.

But the Bench said it was not the question of an individual and the larger issue needed to be addressed. Accordingly, it asked the Juvenile Justice Committee of the High Court to submit a report to it within a week.

Taking serious note of allegations that people were finding it difficult to approach courts in Jammu and Kashmir, the top court had on Monday asked the High Court Chief Justice to send a report to it. Chief Justice of India Gogoi had said if required he would himself visit Srinagar.

“If you are saying so, we are bound to take serious note of it. Tell us why it is very difficult for people to approach the high court. Is anybody stopping the people from going to high court? It is very, very serious,” the CJI had told Ahmadi on September 16 after he complained that it was very difficult for people in Jammu and Kashmir to approach the high court.

Citing news reports, the petitioners alleged that a number of minors and youth had been picked up by security forces in Pampore, Awantipora, Khrew and Tral and sought directions to the authorities that illegally detained children below 18 be identified and produced before Juvenile Justice Committee.

Mehta had contested the petitioners’ claim on behalf of Jammu and Kashmir administration, saying all courts in the state were functioning and even Lok Adalats had been held.