Allahabad HC seeks response from up for torture of juveniles during anti-CAA protests

The Allahabad High Court, on Tuesday, ordered the State of Uttar Pradesh (UP) to file an affidavit detailing the steps taken by it regarding statutory compliances with the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 (JJ Act) in all the districts of the State (HAQ-Centre for Child Rights v State of UP and Anr.).

A Bench headed by the Chief Justice Govind Mathur passed the order after taking note of the omissions that had taken place in complying with the JJ Act while dealing with protestors who were agitating against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The court was hearing a PIL by NGO, HAQ-Centre for Child Rights alleging illegal detention and torture of juveniles during the anti-CAA protests, particularly in the districts of Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Sambhal and Lucknow. The NGO had moved the court based on a fact-finding report prepared by it regarding the excesses against juvenile anti-CAA protestors.

The High Court took the view that instead of limiting the reliefs to the four districts dealt with in the report, the State should inform the court about the status and compliance with duties and responsibilities under the JJ Act in all districts of UP.

The court, therefore, issued notice to the State of UP directing it to file a counter affidavit with regard to the same.

The Allahabad High Court, on Tuesday, ordered the State of Uttar Pradesh (UP) to file an affidavit detailing the steps taken by it regarding statutory compliances with the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 (JJ Act) in all the districts of the State (HAQ-Centre for Child Rights v State of UP and Anr.).

A Bench headed by the Chief Justice Govind Mathur passed the order after taking note of the omissions that had taken place in complying with the JJ Act while dealing with protestors who were agitating against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The court was hearing a PIL by NGO, HAQ-Centre for Child Rights alleging illegal detention and torture of juveniles during the anti-CAA protests, particularly in the districts of Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Sambhal and Lucknow. The NGO had moved the court based on a fact-finding report prepared by it regarding the excesses against juvenile anti-CAA protestors.

The High Court took the view that instead of limiting the reliefs to the four districts dealt with in the report, the State should inform the court about the status and compliance with duties and responsibilities under the JJ Act in all districts of UP.

The court, therefore, issued notice to the State of UP directing it to file a counter affidavit with regard to the same.

The Bench also underscored the necessity to set up a committee to monitor the implementation of the JJ Act.

As per the petition, a fact-finding team comprising members of HAQ had visited 4 districts of the state of UP and documented various incidents of illegal detention, custodial torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of minors in December 2019.

Consequently, a report titled “BRUTALISING INNOCENCE -Detention, Torture and Criminalization of Minors by UP police to quell anti – CAA protests”, was first published on January 31, 2020 which is the basis for the petition.”The severity of police action in UP is most visible in the abuse of children. Despite national and international legislations, and the respect accorded to jus cogens norms even in times of war, close to 41 minors have been detained and subjected to custodial torture, criminalization and post custodial coercion in UP,”the report stated.

The petition quotes the report while stating that in Sambhal district, 6 minors were detained by the police, of whom 5 have given testimonies about being detained in adult lock-ups for about 40 days or more.

“The report shows that the abuse of minors is spread across two primary districts of Muzaffarnagar (14 minors) and Bijnor (22 minors), both of which have more than 40% Muslim population and a high concentration of national minority institutions where children from across the country are studying,”

adds the plea.

The plea has alleged that the actions of the UP police is in grave breach of the JJ Act, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment and the Constitutional rights guaranteed to children under Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21.

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In light of these allegations, the PIL has prayed that a direction be issued to the State government to file an Action Taken Report detailing the measures and steps undertaken since December 2019 to ensure that children are not harmed in their interface with the law enforcement machinery during the course of protests.

It has further prayed that the Principal Magistrate and a member of the Juvenile Justice Board(s) be directed to undertake weekly or regular jail visits to ensure that no child is incarcerated in adult jails, in terms of Section 8(3)(m) of the JJ Act, 2015, and file a consolidated monthly report of such visits with the Juvenile Justice Committee of the High Court.

The petitioner has also sought creation of a Standard Operating Procedure for determination of age by the Juvenile Justice Board or Child Welfare Committee, in terms of Section 94 of the JJ Act, 2015.

The matter will now be heard on December 14.

The petitioner was represented by advocates Vrinda Grover, Soutik Banerjee and Tanmay Sadh.

Source http://Brand bench.chttp://Brand bench com

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