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Charge of illegal arrest of minors figment of imagination: J&K juvenile justice panel

Author: Dhananjay Mahapatra
Publication: The Times of India
Date: October 2, 2019
URL:      https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/charge-of-illegal-arrest-of-minors-figment-of-imagination-jk-juvenile-justice-panel/articleshow/71401465.cms

The Juvenile Justice Committee (JJC) of Jammu and Kashmir High Court comprising four HC judges submitted a report to the Supreme Court giving details of 144 minors arrested by the police since August 5 and said 142 of them were released while two were in juvenile homes.

The JJC, comprising chairman Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey and members Justices Dhiraj Singh Thakur, Sanjeev Kumar and Rashid Ali Dar, in its report detailed FIRs under police stations pursuant to which the juveniles were detained and the date they were released. Except two, all others were released the same day they were arrested.

Petitioners and child right activists Enakshi Ganguly and Shanta Sinha had based their petition on reports on news portals and international media alleging a large number of illegal detention of minors since August 5 when the Centre scrapped J&K’s special status and decided to divide the state into two Union Territories.

A bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi had said on September 20, “As the issue pertains to alleged detention of children, we direct the Juvenile Justice Committee of the HC of J&K to undertake an exercise with regard to the facts stated in the writ petition and revert to us within a week.”

The JJC’s report dated September 26 dealt with each incident of alleged illegal detention of minors by the police mentioned in the petition, which was based on reports in Washington Post, Quint, Scroll and Caravan. The JJC also said the committee or its members individually “has not received any complaint or representation or anything like that from any individual, lawyer, human rights activists, group persons, organisations, civil society members or any other person complaining about arrest of any juvenile”.

The JCC said, “As far as this committee is concerned, ever since its establishment, it has been taking requisite steps to ensure provisions of the law concerning juveniles are effectively implemented. The committee also occasionally conducts inspections of observation homes to ensure juveniles lodged there are provided appropriate lodgment, bedding, clothes, food, recreation facility, healthcare etc.”

After getting reports from subordinate courts and district juvenile justice committees, the HC JJC also sought a report from the state police on alleged incidents of illegal detention of minors, mentioned in the petition. Following are extracts of the director general of police’s report to the HC committee:

* Detention of 11-year-old from Pampore is factually not correct. “This (news) report has been generated with the intention to malign the police and to create a story which may have an element of sensationalism”

* Incident at Soura in Srinagar: Police admit it to be a disturbed area in which minors were found involved in violence. “The report carried by Washington Post does not indicate the source which has quoted this incident to check veracity”

* Quint report on Baramulla incident appears to “have been solely based on fictional imagination... it appears very strange that international print media and online news portals could carry this false report but not the local media”

* Confirm picking up two boys involved in stone pelting in Rajbagh police station area on August 22. “After proper counselling by the SHO, they were handed over to their parents the same day”

* Washington Post report of August 30 about two boys was “wrong reporting” as it did not provide specifics about the alleged incidents

* Scroll report of August 28 “suggests as if police are a predator on a prowl” alleging that a boy on his way to hospital with tea and food was arrested. It defies common sense as to why he would be arrested and put behind bars. “This is nothing but attempt to demoralise police”

* Washington Post report of August 9 “is false and baseless” as no such report about arrest of a minor has been reported.


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