Kathua rape-murder: "If we find slightest issue in respect of fair…"

Kathua rape-murder “If we find slightest issue in respect of fair trial we will transfer the case,” reiterates CJI

The juvenile held in connection with the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in the Kathua rape and murder case was presented before a court amid heavy security here today.

The court considered the plea of the accused, Sanji Ram and Vishal Jangotra, that they be impleaded as parties to the petition filed by the victim's father.

In an affidavit, the state said the prayer for transfer of trial was "misconceived" and the court would have to consider that prosecution witnesses in the case were residents of Jammu and Kashmir and shifting of trial outside the state would cause "great inconvenience".

"This report is not reliable and should not be accepted because no officer of the J&K Police Crime Branch, who were actually prevented from discharging their official duty while presenting the chargesheet, has either been contacted or heard by the committee (of BCI)".

While deferring consideration on the BCI report to July 26, the Bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud chose not to get digressed from the core issue of fair trial and focused on the real issue raised by the victim that of shifting the trial outside the state.

The Association further claims that in a petition filed in the Jammu & Kashmir High Court in February, the victim's family, represented by Deepika Rajawat, had themselves called for a CBI probe into the case.

"Monitoring of trial means we can fast track the trial", the bench said, adding that fast-tracking of case does not mean that proper opportunity should not be granted in accordance with the procedures to the accused and the victim's family.

Two of the accused in case have opposed in the Supreme Court the plea for transfer of the trial from Kathua court to a court in Chandigarh.

The report of the sessions judge says even after the court hours were over on April 9, the lawyers continued their protests outside the residence of the chief judicial magistrate.

In connection with the case, two First Information Reports (FIRs) were filed - one against eight people for allegedly being involved in the crime, and another has been filed against a group of lawyers which had reportedly stopped the police from filing charge sheet against the eight accused.

These comments anxious the victim's family who felt this could weigh with the High Court to transfer the case to CBI. A week later, her body was found in the same area. The Crime Branch investigations have revealed that the girl child was raped and murdered to create fear and drive the nomadic Muslim tribe out of Kathua.

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