'Against Juvenile Justice Act': Karnataka HC raps police for questioning students in sedition case in uniform

Shankar RajUpdated: Tuesday, August 17, 2021, 11:03 PM IST
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Karnataka High Court | File Photo: PTI

Bengaluru: The Karnataka High Court has rapped the police on their knuckles for questioning students of Bidar’s Shaheen Primary and High School last year in a case of sedition. The court said it was a violation of the rights of children and against the juvenile justice act. It asked the state government to consider issuing directions to the state police to ensure it does not happen again.

The Bidar police had booked a sedition case against the Shaheen group of institutions on January 26 last year over the staging of a play against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) on January 21. One of the girls in the play allegedly uttered an anti-Modi slogan. In March 2020, granting bail to management staffers, a district and sessions court had said there was nothing seditious in the play.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka Monday said the photographs placed before the court from March last year shows school children (two boys and a girl) being interrogated by five police personnel — four of them in full uniform and at least two carrying firearms.

“Prima facie this is a serious case of violation of rights of children and provisions of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act. We direct the state to respond by filing a response stating on record what action has been initiated against the police official who interrogated school children while wearing uniforms and while carrying firearms,” the bench said.

The court said only plain clothes police personnel can interact with children. If a girl has to be questioned, women personnel should be present. It asked the DG and IGP to nominate a higher level officer to look into the violations and file a response by September 3, before the next hearing in the case.

The HC was hearing a PIL filed by advocate Nayana Jyothi Jhawar and South India Cell For Human Rights Education and Monitoring. The petitioners have sought a departmental inquiry and consequential action against police personnel for illegal questioning of minor students of the school. The petitioners also sought compensation to parents or legal guardians of the children who were subjected to illegal questioning.

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