Karnataka school play sedition case: Probe begins against police officers

Only woman officers should talk to girl students as per provisions of Juvenile Justice Act, the bench said.

Bengaluru: The Karnataka high court has been informed that the police department is initiating disciplinary actions through departmental inquiry against policemen who questioned students in Bidar district for staging a play against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The matter will be probed by the Director-General and Inspector General of Police (DG & IGP), a division bench headed by acting chief justice Satish Chandra Sharma was informed on Friday. The government advocate informed the court that the investigating officer was not wearing uniform at the time of questioning students and submitted an affidavit.

The bench ordered the government to file a fresh affidavit on the progress of the departmental inquiry initiated by the government against the police officers. The matter was adjourned till October 21.

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The bench also reminded the government of its directive given on August 16 to initiate measures to create awareness among police personnel on not violating the rights of children. The court had also asked the government to issue directives in this regard.

The high court then had also took serious objection to violations of the guidelines of the Juvenile Justice Act by the police officers while investigating the sedition case against the Shaheen Group of Institutions of Bidar.

On August 16, the other Division Bench then headed by the former Chief Justice A.S. Oka and Justice Sanjay Gowda, who took up the petition filed in this regard pulled up the government and state police department.

“We have verified the affidavit submitted by DySP Basaveshwara in this regard on March 16. The attached photograph in the affidavit shows five police officers questioning two 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.

While interacting with children, police officers are advised to be clad in normal dress. Only woman officers should talk to girl students as per provisions of Juvenile Justice Act, the bench said.

“If we turn blind eye to this case, it will be repeated. 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 have filed a petition against the police department. They have alleged that, including a 9-year-old, 85 students were investigated by the police which had left the children traumatized .

Shaheen Group of Institutions arranged a presentation on the controversial and ambitious 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 carrying out a negative campaign by the school management on a law enacted by parliament. The case was registered at Bidar New Town police station under sedition. Including the headmistress, 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 their consent.

The petition demanded that that the UN Guidelines of 2005 while inquiring about a criminal case should be considered. The petitioners have also demanded compensation for students and parents by the police.

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