The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Juvenile Justice Committee of Jammu and Kashmir High Court to look into allegations of detention of children after the Centre’s move to scrap the state’s special status on August 5.
A bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer also issued notice on a habeas corpus plea by one Asifa Mubeen against the detention of her husband Mubeen Ahmed Shah under the J&K Public Safety Act, 1978 on August 7. The court sought a reply in two weeks.
“As the issues highlighted pertain to alleged detention of children, we direct the Juvenile Justice Committee of Jammu and Kashmir High Court to undertake an exercise with regard to the facts stated in the writ petition and revert to us within a week from today,” the bench said.
The court was hearing a plea by child rights activists Enakshi Ganguly and Shanta Sinha. The CJI remarked that the petition “raises issues beyond any individual”.
On being asked why they had not approached the High Court, the petitioners’ counsel Senior Advocate H Ahmadi said on the last date of hearing that it was difficult for people to access the High Court due to restrictions in the Valley.
The bench then sought a report from J&K High Court Chief Justice. On Friday, CJI Gogoi told Ahmadi that he had received the report “which does not support your stand”.
The CJI said “we have conflicting reports also which we looked into” and added, “Since children are concerned, we will entertain you.”
The petition cited media reports to claim that minors had been detained by security forces in places like Tral, Pampore and Awantipora.
It said that with regard to the situation in J&K, “there have been certain reports specific to children, which describe violations of very different kinds, ranging in seriousness from potential loss of life and liberty of the child, to being emotionally and intellectually drawn into the conflict”.
It stated that “in cases where teenage boys are picked up for fear of being ‘potential’ stone-pelters, it is imperative that the detention must be reported and monitored by a body such as the Juvenile Justice Committee of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir…”.
“With the abrogation of Article 370 and the consequent passing of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 the immediate safety and protection of Kashmiri children becomes the responsibility of the Union Government,” the plea said, and added that “it is in this context that the Petitioners pray that the Supreme Court act as parens patriae to the children and direct the government to submit a status report” on the alleged detentions and injuries.
In her habeas corpus plea filed through Advocate Tahir Ahmedi Siddiqui, Asifa Mubeen said her husband was “illegally” picked up on the night of August 4 and lodged in Central Jail, Srinagar and later shifted to Agra Central Jail. She said Mubeen Ahmed Shah was a qualified doctor and and a businessman by profession who had been living in Malaysia since 2012. He had also been the President of Chamber of Commerce at Srinagar and had an “unblemished record as a leading businessman of the Valley”.
He had come to India in April 2019 to attend the last rites of his sister-in-law, the petitioner said.
Senior Advocate Raju Ramachandran, also appearing for the woman, said her husband was suffering from health issues.
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