SC seeks new report on minors’ detention
The committee comprised four sitting judges of the J&K high court , justice Ali Mohammad Magrey, who is the chairman, and justices Dhiraj Singh Thakur, Sanjeev Kumar and Rashid Ali Dhar.Updated: Nov 06, 2019 02:51 IST
The Supreme Courton Tuesday sought a fresh report from the Juvenile Justice Committee of the Jammu and Kashmir high court on allegations of illegal detention of juveniles after August 5, when Parliament passed laws and resolutions to bifurcate the region into two Union territories, and also scrap provisions giving the erstwhile state special status.
A three-judge bench led by Justice NV Ramana asked the panel to conduct a fresh exercise to verify the allegations after it felt that the earlier report was not in conformity with the directions the court had passed. Though the bench did not fix any deadline for receiving the report, it asked the panel to undertake and complete the exercise “as expeditiously as possible.”
The bench was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by child rights activist Enakshi Ganguly, complaining against the illegal detention of juveniles, in violation of the juvenile justice law and principles governing human rights. The bench fixed December 3 to hear the case again.
Submitted on October 1, the committee’s first report was merely a record of the data it received from the local police and juvenile justice homes, according to which 144 juveniles were detained in J&K after August 5. The report added that 142 of then were released.
The committee comprised four sitting judges of the J&K high court , justice Ali Mohammad Magrey, who is the chairman, and justices Dhiraj Singh Thakur, Sanjeev Kumar and Rashid Ali Dhar.
“The state machinery has been constantly upholding the rule of law and not a single juvenile in conflict with law has been illegally detained…” the committee stated in its earlier report pursuant to a direction given by the top court on September 20.
During the hearing, the bench agreed with Ganguly’s lawyer, senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, that the panel had merely submitted to the court a report prepared by the state police without any independent inquiry. Ahmadi claimed preventive detention is barred under both the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC( and the J&K Public Safety Act, yet the juveniles were detained by the police.
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta’s argument that the report by a panel of sitting HC judges cannot be challenged by way of an appeal was brushed aside by the bench. Mehta said the petitioners made a false statement that the J&K HC was not functioning and pleaded that the matter to be referred to the HC itself.
But Ahmadi insisted on the apex court hearing the matter as it involved fundamental right to life and liberty of citizens. Justice Ramana pointed out the order of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi’s bench and said propriety demands the top court keep hearing the matter. Mehta’s request to adjourn the matter on the ground that he was preoccupied with another matter was also rejected. “We can’t agree. It has been now three months since the lockdown. We cannot delay haring such important matters,” Justice Ramana observed.
The bench briefly also heard the arguments of Kashmir Times Editor Anuradha Bhasin’s petition against restrictions on internet and mobile connectivity. The court will continue with the hearing on Wednesday.