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J&K 'atrocities' on children: Juvenile Justice Committee relied just on DGP arguments

Counterview Desk
Well-known human rights organization Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), which actively campaigned for justice for 2002 Gujarat riot victims, and is currently involved in helping out vulnerable sections declared "foreigners", has pointed towards how there is an effort to water down atrocities on children in Kashmir following the August 5 clampdown.
Quoting from an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court by child rights activist Enakshi Ganguly in response to a report by the Juvenile Justice Committee, a CJP note says that, for all practical purposes, the committee accepts arguments forwarded by DGP, Jammu and Kashmir without questioning it.

Text of the note:

Enakshi Ganguly, a child rights activist, who moved the Supreme Court (SC) demanding protection for children and teenagers allegedly detained by security forces in wake of the abrogation of Article 370 in the region, has punched holes in the Juvenile Justice Committee’s (JJC's) report on the matter to the SC.
In September this year, SC directed the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) High Court’s Juvenile Justice Committee to conduct an inquiry into the allegations. On September 26, JJC submitted its report giving a virtual clean chit to security forces. But now, Ganguly has made a comprehensive analysis of the report and discovered that JJC has merely reproduced the submission of the Director General of the Police (DGP).
In her rebuttal of the report Ganguly says, “… the Report of the Juvenile Justice Committee that relies only on the response of the selfsame party (without having heard any other stakeholder), and without having applied its mind to it does not serve the purpose of the exercise.”
JJC in its report to SC says that, upon being communicated, the apex courts order, it convened a meeting on September 23, and “resolved to ascertain facts from the concerned state agencies as to the assertions and allegations made in the writ petition in question, based on media reports.”
In its submission before SC, JJC says that DGP has refuted media reports alleging detention of children. It quotes DGP’s submission as follows, “It is pertinent to state that no child kept or taken into illegal detention by the Police authorities as strict adherence is placed on the provisions of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.”
It would be important to know how the childlines established in Srinagar, Budgam and Anantnag are being run
The JJC report then reproduces large chunk of DGP’s report where he takes on each allegation of detention and/or violence against children as “facts having been imagined from thin air”, “generated with the intention to malign the police”, or “to create the story which may have element of sensationalism."
To this, Ganguly argues in her response affidavit saying:
“There are numerous unconnected and independent reports from fact-finding teams of concerned citizens and activists, mainstream newspaper, both domestic and international, video reports etc. which strongly allege instances of excesses against children.
"They have been coming out consistently and are. available in the· public domain. It is submitted that their summary dismissal as ‘false’, ‘motivated lies’ would be to our own detriment and to the detriment of our Constitutional morality.”

Ganguly has another key question for DGP. She asks:
“A bald assertion has been made in DGP’s Report at Page 25 to the effect that ‘ child welfare committees’ are effectively working. In Fact, a good barometer of their effective working would be reduced encounter of security personnel with children in need of care and protection, for it should ideally be the task of ewes and childlines to help and counsel children. It would be important to know how the childlines established in Srinagar, Budgam and Anantnag are being run. How may calls have they received/ responded to after August 5, 2019?”
She adds, “It is surprising and unfortunate that DGP’s report should presume to comment on the motives of the Petitioners. The unsubstantiated comments are defamatory, but more critically they seem to dismiss the culture of judicial review of executive action, and of upholding constitutional rights.”
In its submission before SC, JJC has also stated that it resolved to obtain data about “bail applications or Habeas Corpus petitions, if any, moved on behalf of juveniles or where it was claimed that the arrested person(s) or detainees were juveniles, and the process undertaken therein.”
In this regard Ganguly says:
“That two excellent sources of independent verification are also identified in the aforesaid minutes: Habeas Corpus petitions filed on behalf of minors and bail applications on behalf of minors filed before the subordinate Courts.
"However, it may be noted that since the J&K Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2013 offers a separate mechanism for trial of children in conflict with law, it is the Juvenile Justice Board, under Section13 that would grant or reject a Minor’s bail application. Thus, the Juvenile Justice Board may certainly be directed to furnish copies of bail applications, as also of the FlRs produced before them.”

She adds, “Section 14 of the Act also directs that at the point of arrest, the special juvenile police unit must immediately inform the parents/guardian of the factum of the minor’s arrest and also give notice to them to be present before the Board, before which the child would appear. Thus the Juvenile police unit must have records of all such notices issued to Parents and corresponding appearances and Orders of the Board. The Committee may direct those to be placed on record.”

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