Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. DY Chandrachud and the newly appointed Indu Malhotra, JJ, stayed the trial in the Kathua gangrape and murder case till 07.05.2018, after being seized with petitions seeking shifting of the trial to Chandigarh and handing over the investigation to the CBI. Posting the matter for further hearing on 07.05.2018, the Court said that it will 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 CBI.
During the hearing, the Court witnessed heated exchanges between Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the victim’s family, and advocate Harvinder Chaudhary, representing the accused.
Indira Jaising said that the case be transferred to Chandigarh due to proximity to Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir 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 Jammu and Kashmir Government.
Harvinder Chaudhary, on the other hand, said that his clients do not have faith in police investigation and the probe should go to CBI. He alleged that the police was hand-in-glove with vested interests to falsely implicate the accused while the real culprits were someone else.
Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal Ganai, appearing for Jammu and Kashmir, opposed the prayer for a CBI probe and said the SIT of the crime branch was investigating the case. He said that the trial could be shifted from Kathua and Jammu to some other district in the state as there were 221 witnesses and most of the statements recorded so far were in Urdu. It was also argued that Jammu and Kashmir has its own penal law and if the trial is shifted to Chandigarh, then it may create several problems.
Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh submitted before the Court that the Central Government was ready to provide any assistance if required but the call has to be taken by the Jammu and Kashmir government.
The Court had earlier given a stern warning and said it would transfer the Kathua gangrape and murder case from the local court in the “slightest possibility” of lack of fair trial, saying the “real concern” was to hold proper prosecution. It had also directed the State of Jammu & Kashmir to grant protection to the family members of the 8-year old girl, who had been brutally abducted, raped and murdered in Kathua district of J&K in the month of January 2018. The Court also directed that protection be granted to the Deepika Singh Rajawat, the lawyer representation the victim’s family, and one Talib Hussain, who has been rendering assistance to the victim’s family.