Produce minor arrested in Jahangirpuri clash before JJB, HC orders Delhi Police
The Delhi Police told the high court that it was not aware at the time of the arrest accused’s arrest for the Jahangirpuri violence that he was 16 years old.
NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday ordered the city police to right away produce a 16-year-old arrested for his alleged role in the communal clashes in Jahangirpuri before the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB).
The direction came after the Delhi Police told the bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar that the investigators were not aware that the accused was a minor when he was arrested and produced before a duty magistrate on Sunday. The magistrate remanded the juvenile in police custody for interrogation for one day. The Delhi Police told the bench that investigators learnt on Monday that he was a minor and will inform the magistrate when he is produced later in the day.
The high court, which was hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by the minor’s sister-in-law against his arrest, underlined that the charges against the teenager were serious but underlined that it was incumbent on the police to produce him before the JJB in line with the law.
The minor’s sister-in-law’s lawyer Tara Narula argued that the police passed off the juvenile as an adult and produced the 16-year-old before a duty magistrate in Rohini on Sunday. Narula argued that he could not have been remanded in police custody as Section 10 of the Juvenile Justice Act was squarely applicable in the case.
“We understand that you (petitioner’s lawyer) say that he is a juvenile. But these are all serious matters. This is not as if they have picked him up for loitering or jaywalking. They picked him up for being part of a mob. So let us not go there. Let us follow the mandate of JJ (Juvenile Justice) Act and direct his production before JJB. The JJB will verify his age,” the bench said.
Section 10 of the JJ Act requires a minor in conflict with the law under the charge of a special juvenile police unit or a child welfare police officer who should produce the child before JJB within 24 hours of apprehension. This provision also bars the police from keeping the minor in a police lockup or in a jail.
A clash between two groups of Hindus and Muslims broke out on Saturday when a procession to celebrate Hanuman Jayanti was confronted by another group of people in front of a mosque. There was stone pelting and gunshots were fired. Eight policemen were injured in the incident.
When the court asked the police why the minor wasn’t produced before JJB, the additional station house officer (SHO), Jahangirpuri, submitted that the minor will be produced before the JJB concerned at around 4:30pm.
To this, the court remarked, “You must realize, that when he is a juvenile and there is material available to show that he is prima facie a juvenile, then you don’t have to produce him before a magistrate. You have to produce him before a juvenile justice board. Why the magistrate?”
“Police custody remand was given (by the magistrate) but that doesn’t prevent you from following the letter and spirit of the law. If it has now come to your notice that he is a juvenile, you have to take him there. You are not going to wait for one day PC and then take him there. Now you know he is a juvenile. He is entitled to the benefit/provisions of the Act, “it added.
The plea was filed through an organisation, Association for Protection of Civil Rights, alleging that the juvenile was picked up by the police on the suspicion of stone-pelting and rioting during the clashes. It was also alleged that he was beaten by police officers and illegally kept in custody from 16 to 17 April.
Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana on Monday said 23 people from both communities have been held in connection with the Jahangirpuri violence, and asserted that those involved will not be spared irrespective of class, creed or religion.