In the Kathua rape and murder case, the Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to consider a plea of two accused in the gangrape of an eight-year-old girl seeking trial in the case be held in Jammu and the probe be handed over to the CBI. The accused were opposing the plea of the victim’s father seeking transfer of trial outside Jammu, preferably to Chandigarh.
The apex court, however, stated that the case would be transferred out of Kathua if there is the slightest possibility of lack of fair trial. The bench said that trial should be fair not only for the accused but also for the victim’s family and protection should be ensured to them and their lawyers. The bench also said that the lawyers will be dealt in accordance with the law if they are found guilty.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud considered the plea of the accused, Sanji Ram and Vishal Jangotra, that they are impleaded as parties to the petition filed by the victim’s father. The eight-year-old’s father had moved the apex court earlier, apprehending a threat to the family, a friend and their lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat.
The duo had moved top court on Wednesday saying that they have been falsely implicated in the case. The accused added that Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees fair investigation as well as trial to the accused. On the transfer of the case, the plea said the convenience of the complainant cannot be the sole consideration for transferring a criminal case out of the state.
An eight-year-old girl from a minority nomadic community had 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. The state police’s Crime Branch, which probed the case, filed the main charge sheet against seven persons and a separate charge sheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district last week. The charge sheet revealed chilling details about how the girl was allegedly kidnapped, drugged and raped inside a place of worship before being killed.