The Supreme Court on Monday, 7 May, transferred the Kathua rape and murder case to Pathankot court, and refused a CBI inquiry in the matter. Importantly, it ordered an in-camera trial that is to be held on a day-to-day basis without adjournment.
“An in-camera trial has been ordered so that witnesses feel protected and the accused feel safe,” the court reportedly said.
The Court added they will keep monitoring the case from time to time.
The bench allowed the Jammu and Kashmir government to appoint public prosecutor in Pathankot Court, and ask for the state government to provide security to the victim's family, their lawyer and the witnesses. The next date of hearing in the apex court will be 9 July.
Speaking about the transfer of case, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said that security was the main concern of the court, and Pathankot had enough security.
Ankur Sharma, a lawyer representing one of the accused claimed that the court had not heard the appeal related to CBI probe, and said that they will file a pettition under Article 32 seeking the probe of the agency in the coming days.
However, Deepika Rajawat, the advocate representing the eight-year-old victim’s family said that the apex court has rejected the appeal for CBI probe.
The J&K government had told the apex court that it was ready for a fair trial in the state, and opposed its transfer to another state.
Earlier on 27 April, the apex court had stayed the trial in the case till 7 May, after it was seized with petitions, one seeking shifting the trial from Jammu to Chandigarh, and another seeking that investigation to be handed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra had 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 handing over the probe to the CBI.
Eight men have been chargesheeted by the crime branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police for brutally abducting, gangraping and murdering an eight-year-old Bakarwal girl in a forest in Kathua district in January.
Father Says ‘Full Faith in Judiciary’
Ahead of the trial on Sunday, the girl’s father said that he has full faith in the judiciary, and has now devoted his life to ensure justice is done for his daughter.
“I am satisfied with the police investigation and will not rest till justice is done in the case. I want the accused to be given exemplary punishment for their brutality,” the father of the victim told PTI on phone from Ramban district where he along with his family have been camping for the last few days.
Earlier, the apex court, in a stern warning, had said it would transfer the Kathua gangrape and murder case from the local court in Jammu and Kashmir if there was the "slightest possibility" of the lack of fair trial, saying the "real concern" was to hold a proper prosecution.
The eight-year-old’s father had moved the apex court, apprehending threats to the family, a friend and their lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat.
A separate plea was also filed by two accused seeking that the trial in the case be held in Jammu and the probe handed over to the CBI.
‘Hang The Accused Or Shoot Us’
“Hang the accused or shoot us,” the mother of the Kathua eight-year-old told NDTV. "If there is no justice, shoot all four of us," she said, according to the report.
“They will kill us if they are freed. People in four villages are after our lives. We are only four people... everything is gone; our house, our entire property is gone,” the child’s mother said to NDTV.
According to the report, the family’s lawyer told the apex court that they were concerned that the trial would not be able to take place peacefully, considering that the chargesheet was not allowed to proceed.
"Koi begunah nahin hain (no one is innocent)," the mother said, when she was told that Sanji Ram, the main accused in the case, had told the Supreme Court that he was innocent and was like a grandfather to the child.
A police chargesheet says the murder was carefully planned by Ram with the aim of driving the girl’s nomadic Muslim Bakarwal community out of Kathua’s Rasana village, NDTV wrote.
No Need for CBI Probe, Says Mehbooba Mufti
There is “absolutely no need for a CBI probe” into the gangrape and murder in Kathua, Indian Express quoted J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti as saying on Monday morning. According to the report, Mufti said “If you don’t trust J&K Police, there is no one left to be trusted in the state”.
According to the report, Mufti said that the J&K Crime Branch had done a thorough job of collecting the evidence, leaving no need for a CBI enquiry. She also said that the accused could not demand an investigating agency, questioning their agenda behind doing so in the first place.
My question is, why are the accused in this case desperately seeking a CBI inquiry? Why are they convinced about the outcome of such an inquiry? And when does a government decide the investigating agency based on what the accused in such a case want? We have serious challenges ahead and we cannot allow a communal flare-up to burn everything in our state. Our government handled this case very well. Any misstep could have lead to a situation where the entire state would have burnt in communal violence...there are people who are hell bent (on making) this heinous crime into a Hindu-Muslim issue.Mufti to The Indian Express
(With inputs from PTI, Indian Express and NDTV.)
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