Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Tuesday directed the law secretary and the social welfare department to submit a fresh status report on the number of juveniles lodged in jails in Jammu and Kashmir within two weeks.
The court also directed the law secretary to file a response regarding creation of 22 posts of munsifs in the law department within ten days.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), a division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey remarked that the report submitted by the state counsel did not answer any of the questions asked by the court of how many juveniles were in conflict with law and how many were in jails. The court passed a direction to Advocate General BA Dar to ensure that the report is submitted on the next hearing.
The PIL has been filed by a Haryana-based social worker Tanvi Ahuja. She has stated that thousands of juveniles have been arrested over the years under J&K Public Safety Act (PSA) and sections of Ranbir Penal Code, instead of being tried under the state Juvenile Justice Act.
“The situation in J&K is extreme. There are no Juvenile Justice Boards in the entire state and as such these juveniles have been treated as adults, beaten, and put in jails, contrary to numerous decisions of the Supreme Court holding that the Juvenile Justice Act has supremacy over all other Acts while trying offences committed by children,” Abuja said in her petition.
No juvenile, she said, should ever be put in a jail and ought to be held in juvenile-friendly institutions.
“Instead, alleged stone pelters are arrested by the police, tortured, produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate and immediately remanded to police or jail custody. They remain in jail for fairly long periods and are ill treated and never rehabilitated,” she said.