Sedition case for school play: K'taka HC objects to JJ Act violations

The divisional bench headed by Chief Justice A.S. Oka and Justice Sanjay Gowda, who took up the petition filed in this regard made this observation
Image for representation | Pic: Express
Image for representation | Pic: Express

The Karnataka High Court took objection to violations of the guidelines of Juvenile Justice Act by the police officers while investigating the sedition case against the Shaheen Group of Institutions of Bidar.

The divisional bench headed by Chief Justice AS Oka and Justice Sanjay Gowda, who took up the petition filed in this regard made this observation. The case had made national headlines after the police action.

"We have verified the affidavit submitted by Dy SP Basaveshwara in this regard on March 16. The attached photograph in the affidavit shows five police officers questioning 2 school boys and one school girl. Four police officers are seen in uniform and two of them had weapons. It is a serious prima facie violation of Juvenile Justice Act, Section 86(5)," the bench observed on Monday.

While interacting with children, police officers are advised to be cladding in normal dress. Only woman officers should talk to girl students as per provisions of Juvenile Justice Act, the bench said. It also directed the government to submit an action taken report in this regard by one of the senior most officers.

The bench also told the government to consider initiating actions to prevent violations of children's rights any further by framing guidelines for the state police officers and making them aware about it.

"If we turn blind eye to this case, it will repeat. We will not forgive this action by the police. Why should children be subjected to all this, it can't continue," the bench observed.

Senior Advocate Nayana Jyothi Jhawar and South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring had filed a petition against the police department. They have alleged that, 85 students including a 9-year-old were investigated by the police which had traumatized the children.

Shaheen Group of Institutions had arranged a presentation on the controversial project of the ruling BJP, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at school premises in Bidar district of Karnataka last year.

Neelesh Rakshala, an activist had filed a complaint alleging that it carried out a negative campaign by the school management on law enacted by the parliament. The case was registered at Bidar New Town police station under sedition. Including the head mistress, the student's parents were arrested and later released on bail.

The petition challenged the police action and said that the police violated all guidelines of CRPC, Juvenile Justice Act while investigating the case. They have also alleged that the police have recorded children's videos without taking consent. The petition demanded from the divisional bench that United Nations Guidelines of 2005 while inquiring a criminal case should be considered. The petitioners have also demanded compensation for students and parents by the police.

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