Inability to access court
NEW DELHI, Sept 20: The claim that people in the Kashmir valley are unable to access the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has not been supported by a report received from the Chief Justice there, the Supreme Court said today.
The apex court however directed the Juvenile Justice Committee of the High Court to undertake an exercise on alleged detention of children in Jammu and Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370 and submit a report within a week.
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“We have received a report from the Chief Justice (of Jammu and Kashmir High Court) which does not support your statement,” a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi told senior lawyer Huzefa Ahmadi, who had on September 16 told the top court that people in valley were finding it difficult to approach the High Court there.
The Bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer, said it too has received some “conflicting reports” on the issue but does not intend to comment on the report received from the Chief Justice of the High Court.
Ahmadi, while representing child rights activists Enakshi Ganguly and Shanta Sinha, had said in the top court that people in Kashmir were finding it difficult to approach the High Court there.
The submission was made when the top court was hearing a petition alleging detention of children in Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370.
Taking note of Ahmadi’s submission, the top court had sought a report from the Chief Justice on the issue.
During the hearing today, the Bench agreed to examine the plea filed by Ganguly and Sinha while observing that it has raised substantial issue pertaining to alleged detention of children.
“We have perused the report sent to us by the Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court pursuant to our order dated September 16, 2019. At this stage, we do not consider it appropriate to offer any comments on the report,” the Bench noted in its order.
“As the issues highlighted pertain to alleged detention of children, we direct the Juvenile Justice Committee of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir to undertake an exercise with regard to the facts stated in the writ petition and revert to us within a week from today,” it said.
The top court, which said that its Registry would send a copy of the petition to the committee “forthwith”, has posted the matter for hearing after a week.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Jammu and Kashmir administration, told the court that when the authorities found that one of the detenue was a juvenile, his matter was immediately referred to the juvenile justice board.
“It (petition) raises substantial issues which are beyond any individual,” the Bench told Mehta.
The top court had on September 16 termed as “very very serious” the claim that people are finding it difficult to approach the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and asked the Chief Justice there to “forthwith” submit a report in this regard.
The CJI had then said that he would himself visit Srinagar, if required, and he would also speak to the Chief Justice of High Court about this.
The apex court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking its intervention on the issue of alleged detention of children in Kashmir.
Mehta had earlier told the Bench that all the courts in the State are functioning and even the Lok Adalats have been conducted there.
The plea has contended that all persons below the age of 18 years who have been detained be identified through an age census.
Seeking directions that illegally detained children be produced before the Juvenile Justice Committee of the High Court, the plea has also sought compensation from them. (PTI)