Transfer accused to Gurdaspur jail: SC

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 7/10/2018 1:10:16 PM

‘File supplementary charge-sheet within 8 weeks’

NEW DELHI, Jul 9: The Supreme Court today ordered transfer of the accused in the Kathua minor rape and murder case from Kathua prison in Jammu and Kashmir to Gurdaspur district jail in Punjab.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also directed the Crime Branch of J and K Police to file a supplementary charge sheet in the case within eight weeks. The apex court granted liberty to the litigants of the case to move Punjab and Haryana High Court in case they felt aggrieved by the trial court orders.
The bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, directed the Punjab and J and K governments to provide security to the trial judge and the Special Public Prosecutor of the case respectively.
“The Jammu and Kashmir government shall ensure that family of the accused is allowed to meet the accused at Gurdaspur jail at its expenses,” the top court said.
The accused have, however, opposed the transfer to Gurdaspur. Their lawyer argued that it will be difficult for their families to travel to Gurdaspur and they can not be shifted to a jail there without hearing them.
The Supreme Court also ordered that only the lawyers representing the accused would be allowed inside the district and session court at Pathankot.
This particular direction came after the counsel of Jammu and Kashmir informed a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that as many as seven lawyers each were accompanying the accused inside the court room.
Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade and standing counsel Shoeb Alam, who submitted a status report to the court in a sealed cover, also alleged that the presence of so many lawyers on behalf of the accused was detrimental to fair trial as witnesses who were appearing before the judge for recording their statements were feeling threatened.
They said, at a given time, there were nearly 50 lawyers present in the court room to defend the accused in the case. "We request the court to allow recording of statement and cross-examination of accused through video-conferencing. Otherwise the motive of in-camera trial gets defeated,” Naphade said.
Upon this, the bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, “Advocates who are related to the case and no one else will be allowed for the in-camera proceedings.”
The apex court directed the district and sessions judge to observe "full court" in-camera trial during the hearing, in which only one lawyer representing the accused, special public prosecutor and public prosecutors and the court staff would be present in the court room. The bench, however, said there was no need for recording the statements and cross-examination of the accused through video conferencing.
After the top court disposed of the case, counsel of the family of the victim Deepika Rajawat said she was satisfied with proceedings and welcomed the transfer of the accused to Gurdaspur prison. "We still have a long battle to fight," she said. “It feels like the Supreme Court is always with us to support us,” said Rajawat.
In the meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir government submitted its investigation and trial report and appealed to the court that it shouldn't be made public.
There are eight accused in the case, including one Sanji Ram, who is alleged to be the main culprit who had ordered kidnapping and murder of the girl belonging to the nomadic community. The others are his son Vishal, his juvenile nephew, two special police officers including Deepak Khajuria alias 'Deepu', Parvesh Kumar alias 'Mannu' and two police officers who had allegedly destroyed the evidence in the case.
The eight-year-old girl from a minority nomadic community had disappeared from near her home in Rasana village close to Jammu's Kathua on January 10. Her body was found in the same area a week later.
The charge-sheet filed by the state police said that the child was kidnapped, drugged, starved and gang-raped for a week before her head was smashed with a stone. The police said the assault was an attempt to push out a nomadic Muslim community from Hindu majority areas of Jammu.
In May, the Supreme Court accepted the family's appeal to shift the case to Pathankot after the matter triggered a backlash in the Hindu-majority Jammu. It directed day-to-day in-camera trial in the case.



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