New Delhi:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said no child in conflict with the law can either be held in police custody or jailed, let alone be tortured, speaking up for the minors who were allegedly picked up and tortured in UP and Delhi during the anti-CAA protests.

A bench, comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, issued notices to Uttar Pradesh State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, asking them to examine allegations that the state police picked up children during the recent anti-CAA protests, kept them in police custody and tortured them. The two panels were asked to file their responses in three weeks.

The bench also directed the Union of India to look into the matter and file its response within three weeks. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights may also look into the matter and submit a report within three weeks, the court said.

The order came after the amicus curiae in a case involving alleged sexual exploitation of children in orphanages in Tamil Nadu drew the court’s attention to newspaper reports that the children were kept in police custody against the law and tortured.

At advocate Aparna Bhatt’s insistence, the bench cleared the air over the law which bars children from being held in police custody.

Citing Section 10 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, the bench said a child apprehended by police should be placed under the charge of a special juvenile police unit or a designated child welfare officer. Such authority should produce the child before Juvenile Justice Board without any loss of time but not more than 24 hours after the child is apprehended.