The Supreme Court is slated to resume hearing in the alleged brutal gangrape and murder case of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir. A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra had earlier stayed the trial of the accused in the case before a sessions court.
The Supreme Court had stayed the trial in the Kathua gangrape case till May 7, in the wake of petitions seeking transfer of the case to Chandigarh and handing over the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra had said that 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 CBI.
An eight-year-old child 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. During the hearing, the apex court had witnessed heated exchanges between senior advocate Indira Jaising, who appeared for the victim’s family, and advocate Harvinder Chaudhary, who was representing the accused.
Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal Ganai, along with standing counsel Shoeb Alam, appearing for Jammu and Kashmir, opposed the prayer for a CBI probe and said the SIT of the crime branch was investigating the case. Ganai said 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.
Alam said 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, appearing for the Centre, said the government was ready to provide any assistance if required but the call has to be taken by the Jammu and Kashmir government.
The apex court gave 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.