The Supreme Court on November 16 held that one of the accused in the sensational gang-rape and murder case of an eight-year-old nomadic girl in Kathua was not a juvenile and now can be tried afresh as an adult for the offences.
The top court also held that medical opinion regarding the age of an accused cannot be “brushed aside” in the absence of statutory proof on the same issue.
“Medical opinion regarding age in absence of any other conclusive evidence should be considered to determine the age range of the accused...Whether medical evidence can be relied upon or not depends on the value of evidence,” a bench of justices Ajay Rastogi and J.B. Pardiwala said.
It set aside the orders of the Chief Judicial Magistrate at Kathua and the high court which had held that the accused Shubam Sangra was a juvenile and hence to be tried separately.
“We set aside the judgements of the CJM Kathua and the high court and hold that the accused was not a juvenile at the time of commission of offence,” Justice Pardiwala said while pronouncing the verdict.
The girl was raped in a Kathua village in 2018.
A special court, in June 2019, had sentenced three men to life imprisonment in the case and sentenced three police officers to five-year imprisonment for causing destruction of evidence.
However, the trial against Sangra was shifted to the Juvenile Justice Board.