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Supreme Court stays trial in Kathua rape, murder case till May 7

The Supreme Court in New Delhi. File

The Supreme Court in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: THE HINDU

The Supreme Court on Friday stayed till May 7 the trial in the case of the rape and murder of a minor in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir.

A Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra said it would deal with the prayer of the victim’s father for shifting the trial to Chandigarh and the plea of the accused seeking the handing over the probe to the CBI.

The child from a minority nomadic community disappeared from near her home in a village near Kathua in Jammu region on January 10. Her body was found in the same area a week later.

During the hearing, the court witnessed heated exchanges between senior advocate Indira Jaising, who appeared for the victim’s family, and advocate Harvinder Chaudhary, who was representing the accused.

Ms. Jaising said the case should be transferred to Chandigarh due to its proximity to Kathua and the incidents of obstruction of police personnel by lawyers of the local court.

She said that attempts were made to intimidate the presiding judge of the court and the crime branch officials were heckled by the lawyers, as is evident in the affidavit of the Jammu and Kashmir government.

Ms. Chaudhary said his clients do not have faith in police investigation and the probe should go to the CBI. She alleged that the police were hand-in-glove with vested interests to falsely implicate the accused while the real culprits were someone else.

Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal Ganai, along with standing counsel Shoeb Alam, appearing for Jammu and Kashmir, opposed the prayer for a CBI probe and said the special investigation team of the Crime Branch was investigating the case.

Over 200 witnesses

Mr. Ganai said the trial could be shifted from Kathua to some other district in the State as there were 221 witnesses and most of the statements recorded so far were in Urdu.

Mr. Alam said Jammu and Kashmir had its own penal law and if the trial was shifted to Chandigarh, then it may create several problems.

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for the Centre, said the government was ready to provide any assistance if required but the call has to be taken by the Jammu and Kashmir government.

The apex court on Thursday said it would transfer the case from the local court in the “slightest possibility” of lack of fair trial, and added that the “real concern” was to hold proper prosecution.

The eight-year-old’s father had moved the apex court, apprehending threat to the family, a friend and their lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat. A separate plea was also filed by two accused seeking that the trial be held in Jammu and the probe handed over to the CBI.

The Crime Branch filed the main charge sheet against seven persons and a separate charge sheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua last week. The charge sheet had details of how the girl was allegedly kidnapped, drugged and raped inside a place of worship before being killed.

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Printable version | Sep 29, 2020 10:46:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/supreme-court-stays-trial-in-kathua-case-till-may-7/article23695527.ece

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