Terming as “very very serious” the claim that people are finding it difficult to approach the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, the Supreme Court Monday decided to verify it by asking the Chief Justice there to “forthwith” submit a report in this regard.
“If you are saying so, we are bound to take serious note of it. Tell us why it is very difficult for people to approach the high court. Is anybody stopping the people from going to high court? Then it is a very very serious issue,” a bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi said.
“We will verify this”, the bench, which also comprised justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer, said after senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi appearing for two child rights activists claimed that it is very difficult for the people in the state to access the high court there.
The CJI said he would himself visit Srinagar, if required, and he would also speak to the chief justice of high court about this.
“It is stated by Huzefa Ahmadi, senior counsel for the petitioners, that access to the high court of Jammu and Kashmir is seriously affected by the present situation in the state. We request the chief justice of the high court to submit a report on the above issue forthwith,” the bench noted in its order.
Taking note of Ahmadi’s submissions, the CJI said: “You are saying that you cannot go to the high court. We have called for a report from Chief Justice of the high court. If required, I will myself go there.”
He further said: “We must know if there is denial of access to justice. I will personally talk to the chief justice of the high court after this matter is over because what you have said is very very serious thing.”
The bench warned however that if the allegations are found to be incorrect then the petitioners should be ready to face the consequences.
The apex court was considering a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking the apex court’s intervention on the issue of detention of children in Kashmir.
During the hearing, the bench referred to the prayer made in the petition and said that petitioners have themselves said that children be produced before the juvenile justice committee of the high court.
“You yourself are saying that you want this exercise to be done under the aegis of the juvenile justice committee of the high court. Then why do not you go to the high court,” the bench said.
Ahmadi, however, said it is very difficult to approach the high court in the state.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Jammu and Kashmir, told the bench that all the courts in the state are functioning and even the Lok Adalats have been conducted there.
When Mehta said that he wanted to make statement in the court on the issue, the bench said, “We do not want anybody to make any statement. We will look into it. If people are not able to approach the high court, then we will have to look into it.”
The petition has been filed by child rights activists Enakshi Ganguly and Professor Shanta Sinha against the alleged illegal detention of children in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of revocation of Article 370 and bifurcation of state.
The plea has contended that all persons below the age of 18 years who have been detained be identified through an age census.
Seeking directions that illegally detained children be produced before the Juvenile Justice Committee of the high court, the plea has also sought compensation from them.