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Bidar Sedition Case: Students Were 'Counselled' by Police, Not Interrogated, State Tells Karnataka HC

A picture of an officer surfaced on social media, where he can be seen questioning two schoolboys at the police station. (News18)

A picture of an officer surfaced on social media, where he can be seen questioning two schoolboys at the police station. (News18)

The court was hearing a PIL questioning the investigating officer's conduct and if rules were followed during examinations of minor students after the school management was slapped with sedition charges for performing a play that was allegedly critical of the CAA.

Bengaluru: Seventeen students of Shaheen School in Bidar were "counselled" by the police and neither interrogated nor questioned as per provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, the state told the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday.

Submitting the state's report, Advocate General (AG) Prabhuling Navadgi argued that the petitioner had filed the case simply based on newspaper reports, requesting the bench to dismiss the petition. He also told the court that the police had examined a total of 17 students -- seven students who participated in the play and 10 who watched it.

The High Court was hearing a PIL filed by advocate Nayana Jhawar questioning the investigating officer's conduct and whether rules were followed during examinations of minor students after the school management was slapped with sedition charges for performing a play that was allegedly critical of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The school principal and a student’s parent were also arrested over sedition charges for the play .

The state submitted that due procedure was followed without violating any of the rules and regulations prescribed in the Police Manual or the Juvenile Justice Act and Rules. The investigating officer counselled the students in the presence of the district child protection officer, along with the Special Juvenile Police Unit, in line with the Juvenile Justice Act, said the AG.

The state also mentioned that the investigating officer was dressed in civil clothes at the time of counselling and did not carry any weapon or gun as was alleged by the petitioner. However, a viral picture of police officers in uniform interrogating students had drawn severe criticism from several quarters.

Chief Justice Abhay Sreenivas Oka asked the state if the police officers were trained to counsel students. He also questioned whether the Investigating officer, who is the Bidar Deputy Superintendent of Police, would subject more children to further counselling. On submitting that no further counselling was intended, the court posted the matter for further hearing on March 9.

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