SC transfers Kathua Rape and Murder case to Punjab, will monitor trial

In a welcome development in the Kathua rape and murder case, the Supreme Court has transferred the case to a court in Pathankot, Punjab. This is significant given concerns that the accused in the case could use their political clout to derail justice.

Image Courtesy: Rediff

The Supreme Court has also ordered a day-to-day trial and clarified that this means there shall be no adjournments during the trial. The trial will be held in camera and the statements that have been recorded in Urdu will be translated into either Hindi or English for the Pathankot court. The trial will be held as per the provisions of the Ranbir Penal Code that is applicable to the state of J&K. The case will be presided over by the Pathankot District Judge and the SC will monitor the trial.

A bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra was hearing a plea to transfer the case out of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). The SC refused to examine a separate plea to hand over investigations in the case to the CBI. While the SC allowed the Jammu and Kashmir government to appoint a public prosecutor, it said that the state government should provide security to the victim’s family, their lawyer and witnesses in the case. This is also significant because Deepika Singh Rajawat, who is the victim’s lawyer, had alleged harassment from the Jammu Bar Association.

Supporters of the accused had earlier held a rally claiming they had been framed. The tricolour was also waved at this rally with much gusto as if to suggest the accused were national heroes who were being falsely implicated in the case. Later members of the Kathua Bar Association had tried to prevent the Crime Branch form filing a charge-sheet before the court in a clear case of obstruction of justice. The 15 page charge-sheet showcases the horrifying brutality of the case as well as how the accused had kidnapped, drugged, raped and murdered the little girl to scare and drive away the local nomadic Muslim Bakarwal community.



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