The Supreme Court on Friday sought a report from the Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice Committee on the alleged detention and ill treatment of children in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Committee has been asked to submit its report within a week. The Court has also issued notice to the Centre on the plea.
The bench was considering a Public Interest Litigation filed by Ms. Enakshi Ganguly, an eminent child rights expert and Professor Shanta Sinha , the first Chairperson of the National Commission for Child Rights (NCPCR) against the alleged illegal detention of children in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of revocation of Article 370 and bifurcation of State.
The bench headed by CJI Gogoi also said that it had received a report from the Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court, which stated that there were no hurdles in accessing the HC.
But the bench, also comprising Justices Bobde and Abdul Nazeer, added that there were conflicting reports about the situation.
Last Monday, Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi had submitted that the HC was not accessible due to the lockdown imposed in Kashmir, when the bench enquired about the reason for petitioning the SC directly.
The Petitioners submitted that there have been certain reports specific to children, which describe violations that include loss of life and liberty, and that the reports are serious enough to merit judicial review of the situation with respect to children and to enforce and monitor certain immediate corrective action.
The petitioners highlighted two important areas of concern, the first pertains to illegal (if temporary) detention (and in some cases beatings) of young boys by security forces. The second concerns serious injuries and deaths of children through deliberate or accidental action by security forces.
It is submitted, on the basis of extensive news reports that a large number of minors and youths have been picked up by security forces in places like Pampore, Awantipora, Khrew, Tral,
Petitioners submitted that as a constitutional democracy, it is imperative, especially in these extraordinary circumstances that the Supreme Court ensures that no excesses take place against women and children, who are admittedly most vulnerable in such tense situations.
The Petition filed through Advocate Sumita Hazarika, makes the case that even if the child is a potential 'stone-pelter', he should not be detained without express written orders of a judicial authority, describing the provision of law permitting such detention.
It is submitted that the situation in Kashmir today is urgent and disturbing from the perspective of children's wellbeing. It would appear from the reports that the state is acting in violation of both specific laws with respect to children and also of constitutional principles and International Child rights commitments.
Petitioners have sought a direction to Respondent to file a status report detailing the current whereabouts, and the medical (both psychological and physical) status be provided on the specific children described in this petition, who have been detained or were detained and who have been beaten up in custody.
It is also prayed that all persons below the age of eighteen years who are detained in any police station, detention centre, jails, or any other confinement, by whatever name called in Jammu and Kashmir be identified through an age census conducted under the aegis of the Juvenile Justice Committee of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir
It is also prayed that all children who are currently detained be produced before the Juvenile Justice Committee of the High Court and brought under their care and supervision, so that they may be provided with the necessary support.
Petitioners also seek a direction for payment of compensation to children who have been maimed or illegally detained and to families of children who have died.The petition also highlights the incidents relating to maiming and injuries caused to children.