4 J&K HC Judges say no minors detained in jails

SC satisfied with report

NEW DELHI, Dec 13: The Supreme Court Friday said it is satisfied with the report of Juvenile Justice Committee of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court which has said that allegation regarding detention of minors in the erstwhile State post the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 are incorrect.
A bench headed by Justice N V Ramana, after perusing the committee’s report, said that four Judges of the High Court had visited the jails in Jammu and Kashmir and they have said that “no such instance has taken place” there.
When senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for petitioner Enakshi Ganguly who has alleged that minors were detained there post abrogation of provisions of Article 370, said he would go through the report and file his response, the bench said it was not proper if the court does not believe its “own judges”.
When Ahmadi insisted that minors were under illegal detention there, the bench said, “Between some report by some newspaper in Washington and report by four Judges of our High Court, what should we accept.”
“One more thing you have to keep in mind is that it effects the image of the judiciary. If you cannot believe our own Judges then it is not done,” said the bench, also comprising Justices R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai.
Ahmadi, while making it clear that he never intended to give an impression that the petitioner does not believe the Judges, said the administration of the erstwhile State had itself accepted in its earlier report that around 87 minors were detained.
Attorney General K K Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta questioned Ahmadi’s arguments that he would file a response after going through the committee’s report and said “it is stretching too far.”
“The Supreme Court had called for fresh report to satisfy its conscience. The second report has come. It will never end and then there would be third, fourth and fifth report. There will not be an end to it,” Venugopal said.
When Ahmadi said that appeals are filed in the Apex Court Against orders of the High Court, the bench said, “It is not a judicial order. It is a report of the committee. If really there was something (in the report), we would have directed something. We are saying that the judges have inspected the records, personally visited the jails. There is nothing more”.
Ahmadi said that as per the earlier report, minors were detained under Section 107 (security for keeping the peace in other cases) of the Code Of Criminal Procedure and this is illegal.
“We have said in the very beginning that you can see the report (of committee). Four Judges of High Court have clearly said that there is no such detention. We are satisfied with that. We are granting you liberty to move appropriate forum for remedy,” the bench said.
“On the first report, you had raised objection and we also felt that it required further consideration. Four judges went to each jail, inspected them and given a detailed report,” the bench said.
When the senior lawyer raised questions about how minors were detained under preventive detention, the bench said, “Are you not aware what children of 15-16 year age are doing? Why amendment to section 376 (rape) of IPC was made?”.
“If a child of say nine-ten year does stone pelting and police take him to police station and releases him after say two hours, will you say he has been illegally detained?,” the bench observed, adding, “Rights of only one side should not only be taken into consideration. Sometimes it is safe for them, otherwise these children may also get hurt”.
As per the first report, most of the minors were released on the same day by the police, it said.
The Apex Court disposed of the plea and granted liberty to the petitioner to approach the appropriate forum if they have any grievance over the issue.
The bench also directed the authorities to provide necessary medical help, including psychological assistance, to the minors who were detained earlier.
The court on November 5 asked the committee to examine afresh the allegations of detention of minors by security forces and place its report expeditiously.
It observed that the J&K Director General of Police had filed a report on September 25 in which he categorically refuted the assertions and allegations made in the media and the petition.
It had told the Supreme Court that 144 juveniles were detained in the State after the Centre abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution, but 142 minors were released. The remaining two were sent to juvenile homes.
On September 20, the Apex Court had asked the Committee to undertake an exercise with regard to the facts stated in a petition filed by the two child right activists.
The four-member Juvenile Justice Committee of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court is headed by Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey. (PTI)