NEW DELHI: The NHRC has sought a report from the Etah district police in Uttar Pradesh into a recent incident of alleged suicide by a minor boy after he was “sent to a jail as an adult” on charges of drug possession, officials said on Thursday.

In addition to this, the commission has also directed its investigation division to conduct an on-the-spot inquiry into the case.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in a statement said that it has directed the Etah senior superintendent of police (SSP) to have the allegations probed by a senior-rank police officer and submit an action taken report to the commission within four weeks.

The rights panel said it has “taken cognisance of a complaint, accompanied by a news clipping, that a 15-year-old minor boy, unable to bear the torture of being sent to a jail as an adult, on charges of drug possession, committed suicide, when released on bail after three months in Etah, Uttar Pradesh, on September 21, 2021”.

It said that allegedly, the boy was arrested by the Etah police in connection with “drug possession” and was sent to the district jail, instead of being produced him before a Juvenile Justice Board.

The boy’s father has reportedly alleged that his son was “illegally arrested and tortured to extort money by the police,” it said.

The NHRC has directed the SSP to have the allegations inquired into, keeping in mind some points, including what protocol is being followed for assessing the age and date of birth of the accused by police.

It said that according to Rule 7 and Section 94 (c) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act (JJ Act), date of birth is the primary proof of age.

Therefore, under what circumstances, the juvenile was treated as an adult, the panel has asked the police.

Non-consideration of the matriculation certificate as proof of the date of birth is in violation of the judgment in the matter of “Ashwani Kumar Saxena vs. State of MP (2012) 9 SCC 750”. 

Therefore, under what circumstances this was ignored, it said.

The commission has directed its investigation division to conduct an on-the-spot inquiry, analyse the case and suggest institutional measures, which can be recommended to the government to ensure children are not being treated as adult for prosecution, the statement said.

The investigation division has also been directed to look into the role played by all stakeholders in this case, including the judge, before whom the child was produced within 24 hours of arrest, and the role of the doctor who examined the child, it added.

Thus, inquiry report is to be submitted within six weeks, the rights panel said.

(If you are having suicidal thoughts, or are worried about a friend or need emotional support, someone is always there to listen. Call Sneha Foundation – 04424640050 (available 24×7) or iCall, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences’ helpline – 02225521111, which is available Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 10 pm.)