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SC takes cognizance of infant's death at Shaheen Bagh


New Delhi: The Supreme Court has taken suo motu cognizance of involvement of children and infants in demonstrations in the backdrop of the death of an infant on January 30 at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant will hear the matter on February 10.

The suo moto action came after a twelve-year-old Zen Gunratan Sadavarte, who was recently awarded the National Bravery Award by President Ram Nath Kovind, in a letter to the Chief Justice termed the death of a four-month-old infant in Delhi's Shaheen Bagh as a violation of "right to life" under the Constitution.

On Feburary 5, Zen, a resident of Mumbai and student of Class VII of Don Bosco International School, Matunga, submitted the letter to the Chief Justice urging the top court to issue directions to stop children and infants from participating in demonstration. Shaheen Bagh has been the epicentre of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests.

Moved by the death of the four-month-old, Jahaan Mohammed who was brought by his parents to the Shaheen Bagh protests, Zen has urged the CJI to direct Delhi Police to conduct an investigation into the cause of his death.

Zen, who received the Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) bravery award for 2019, has written a five-page letter to the CJI stating the incident has shaken her as a citizen.

"The four-month-old child's right to life under Article 21 was violated. The child was accompanied by his mother every day to the Shaheen Bagh demonstration," said Zen while speaking to IANS. The mother has reportedly cited severe cold and cough as a probable reason for the baby's death.

Zen has sought investigation from the authorities into the matter in which the parents claimed that the death certificate did not mention the reason of death, the media reports said.

"The police failed to stop children from participating in such gatherings/agitations, which is harmful for their health," said Zen on police inaction.

Zen's parents Gunratan and Jaishree Sadavarte have made it clear that Zen is not opposed to the Shaheen Bagh protests and has only sought to highlight the pain of children and infants, which amounts to "torture and cruelty" especially as they can't express their anguish.

"Direction may be issued to the authorities to prevent children from becoming a part of a demonstration," said Zen in the letter, which can also be considered as a petition.

She emphasised that the newborn need extra care and the protesters are ignoring the unfavourable conditions in which the children are put, which violates child rights and natural justice.

Zen, in her letter, has pointed out that little Jahaan's right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution was violated as he accompanied his mother daily for the protests and after returning home at 1 a.m. on January 30, passed away in his sleep.

While Jahan's mother has said that he might have succumbed to the winter chill of the national capital, Zen said many of the participants (in Shaheen Bagh) bring their children and infants for prolonged protests, which is violative of their juvenile rights and natural justice.

She also sought to blame the parents, Arif Mohammed and Nazia, the Delhi Police and the organisers of the Shaheen Bagh protests for alleged negligence which resulted in Jahaan's death.

"It is very surprising that the death certificate issued by the hospital has not mentioned any specific reason for the child's death wheras it is mandatory to conduct a medical investigation, including a post-mortem," the letter said.

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