The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice Committee comprising four High Court judges to submit a fresh report on the allegations of detention of minors in Kashmir, after addressing all issues independently.
The Committee has been asked to submit the report by December 3.
This was after the bench headed by Justice N V Ramana agreed with the submission of Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi that the committee had simply forwarded the reports of the J&K police without any independent application of mind.
The Committee did not even notice that preventive detention of juveniles is barred under Code of Criminal Procedure and the J&K Public Safety Act, submitted the senior counsel.
The bench passed the order in the petition filed by child rights activists Enakshi Ganguly and Shanta Sinha alleging illegal detention of children in Kashmir.
In its report submitted on October 1, the Committee had stated that 144 children were detained in Kashmir since August 5, following the revocation of special status of the State. Quoting the report of the J&K police, the Committee said that all of them were dealt with in accordance with the procedure under the Juvenile Justice Act and none of them were under unlawful detention.
Disputing the correctness of this report, the petitioners highlighted that the preventive detention of juveniles is barred under law.
On September 20, the CJI-led bench had directed the Committee to report on the allegations raised by the petitioners.
The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who had initially sought for adjournment of hearing, opposed the plea by stating that petitioners cannot challenge the report filed by four HC judges.
The Solicitor General also submitted that the petitioners had made a false submission in SC that the J&K HC was not functioning.
Countering this, Senior Advocate Ahmadi submitted that a grave of issue of violation of fundamental rights of minors was involved in the case, and hence the matter can be raised before Supreme Court directly under Article 32 of the Constitution of India.
In the beginning, the bench, also comprising Justices Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai had declined the SG's request for adjournment.
"It's been 3 months since lockdown.. cannot delay such important matters further", Justice Ramana told the SG.
"It's been 3 months since lockdown.. cannot delay such important matters further", says the SC bench declining the SG's request for adjournment#JKLockdown #Kashmir— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) November 5, 2019
"It's been 3 months since lockdown.. cannot delay such important matters further", says the SC bench declining the SG's request for adjournment#JKLockdown #Kashmir
The PIL by Ganguly and Sinha had referred to at least 12 specific cases of detention of children reported in media outlets The Washington Post, The Telegraph, Business Insider, The Quint , TRT World and Scroll. News reports of large number of minors and youths being picked up by security forces in places like Pampore, Awantipora, Khrew, Tral, Pulwama etc, were also cited in the PIL.
Regarding these reports, the J&K DGP said :
"The specific allegations made in the petition have not been corroborated from the information received from the field formations. The individual cases where it is alleged that in violation of law the juveniles have been picked up by the Police and lodged in Police lock ups have been found not factually correct".
The media reports were discredited by the DGP as "generated with the intention to malign police and to create the story which may have element of sensationalism". Most of the media reports were lacking in sufficient details for an enquiry, said the police report. The facts in the media reports where 'imagined from thin air', the Committee quoted the DGP as saying.