New Delhi, May 07: The Supreme Court on Monday transferred the trial of the Kathua rape and murder case to the district and sessions court of Pathankot, Punjab.
The Court also ordered for an in-camera trial to be held on a day-to-day basis without adjournment.
The order was passed by a bench of Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra in the petition filed by the father of the victim seeking the transfer of the trial outside Kathua.
The top court, however, refused to accept the plea made by some accused in the case demanding a CBI probe.
The court observed that since the case already stood committed to the sessions court, there was no justification for a fresh probe.
The accused who were supported by number of BJP leaders had alleged that the inquiry conducted by the Crime Branch of the state police was not based on the principles of justice.
The Court also directed that the proceedings would go according to the J&K’s Ranbir Penal Code rather than the Indian Penal Code even though the case has been transferred outside the state.
The state has also been told to arrange an interpreter to translate the witness reports, which are majorly in Urdu.
Also, the prosecutor, in this shift, would still be appointed by the J&K state, the court observed.
Senior Advocate Indira Jaising along with Deepika Singh Rajawat appeared for the victim’s father, while Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora and advocate Harvinder Chaudhary appeared for the accused.
Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium appeared for the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
The apex court also ordered J&K government to facilitate transport and other facilities for the accused and the witnesses at Pathankot. The state has also been given the liberty to appoint a Special Public Prosecutor for the trial at Pathankot.
The Supreme Court will monitor the trial and the matter will now be heard on July 9.
The top court also allowed J&K government to appoint public prosecutor to conduct prosecution of the accused in the trial at Pathankot and asked the government to provide security to victim’s family, their lawyer and witnesses.
The plea made by the state that proceedings of the case be in accordance with the provisions of the Ranbir Penal Code and not the Indian Penal Code, was also accepted.
Before transferring the case to Pathankot, the court considered several options, including Udhampur, Jammu, Ramban and Sambha.
But except Ramban, other places were not acceptable to victim’s family. Ramban was rejected by the accused saying it is dominated by another community hence not conducive to fair trial.
The court also issued directives to District and Sessions Judge Pathankot to personally undertake trial proceedings and not assign it to any additional sessions judge. The court said that it will continue to monitor the progress in trial from time to time.
The victim’s father had filed a plea to move the trial to Chandigarh. The accused had also filed a plea seeking to transfer the case to the CBI from the police.
The victim, an eight-year-old girl from a minority nomadic community, had disappeared from near her home in a village near Kathua in the Jammu region on January 10. Her body was found in the same area a week later.
The apex 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.
The girl’s father had moved the apex court earlier, apprehending threat to the family, a friend and their lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat. A separate plea was also filed by two accused seeking that the trial in the case be held in Jammu and the probe handed over to the CBI.
The state police’s Crime Branch, which probed the case, filed the main chargesheet against seven persons and a separate chargesheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district last week. The chargesheet revealed chilling details about how the girl was allegedly kidnapped, drugged and raped inside a place of worship before being killed.
The Supreme Court also asked the government to continue providing security to the victim’s family, their lawyer and witnesses.
The petition was filed by the biological father of the victim who had sought transfer of the trial to Chandigarh. The J&K government was against transferring the trial outside the state.
Earlier, the Jammu and Kashmir government had assured the Supreme Court that it will provide all necessary arrangements and security for the trial to go smoothly– thereby opposing the transfer of case.
Guv reaches out to Hurriyat:’ I’m no alien, contact me directly in case of injustice’
Jammu, Jan 15: J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik Tuesday reached out to the Hurriyat leaders in Kashmir urging them to apprise him directly of the cases of “atrocity and injustice” to common people that they may come across.
Malik made the offer with an appeal that the Hurriyat Conference leaders should not treat him as “an alien”.
“I have a message for Hurriyat that they should not consider me as an alien,” Governor Malik told news agency PTI in an interview.
“As far as Hurriyat is concerned, I have respect for them, even though their ideology is different from mine. They have a different ideology and I have a different one,” the governor added.
Promising to treat Hurriyat leaders’ complaints with due urgency, the governor said, “If they (Hurriyat) feel there is any atrocity (by troops or police), they can contact me on phone or send a person to me.”
“I will treat them (and their complaints) the way I am treating the rest of the people,” said the governor, maintaining that he has opened up the Raj Bhawan for all.
In his first-ever statement aimed at building bridges between Hurriyat leaders and the Raj Bhawan, Malik also expressed hope that “at some level, there will be talks too” with them at some time.
Explaining that he has always been hearing out the people of Jammu and Kashmir, Malik said, “I take all calls including those from common people of the state. My mobiles and WhatsApp have never been silent. All those complaints which come to me on WhatsApp, I have tried to address them.”
The governor even attended a few calls from general public during the interview itself.
Malik said he even often sends officials from Raj Bhawan to collect the complaints of aggrieved individuals, even if they may not be so pressing or urgent.
Malik emphasised that in his dealings, his opinion is based not merely on official briefings but on narratives of the common people as well.
“I have met all political leaders and keep meeting them regularly,” he said, adding he has also met several delegations of common people and youth groups, “opening himself to them and hearing them out”.
“There is a need to establish contact with them and work according to their aspirations so that they understand that the Centre is not against them,” he added.
Malik said during his short tenure in the office, he has received and resolved thousands of complaints and grievances and has given directions to his advisors to address them as soon as possible.
The grievance cell of Jammu and Kashmir administration has resolved over 40,000 of the complaints registered so far by it.
Since the imposition of the Governor’s rule in the state on June 20, the grievance cell has received 41,716 complaints, of which 40,457 have been dealt with, officials said.
These complaints have been forwarded to the quarters concerned for timely resolution, they said, adding that 877 complaints were “under process”.
The three advisors to the governor have been regularly meeting and hearing the grievances both in Srinagar and Jammu, they said.
GoI should talk to militants too: Mehbooba
‘People don’t hate PDP; they’re just upset with it’
Srinagar, Jan 15: Terming local militants as “sons of soil”, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti Tuesday said efforts should be made to save them, adding the Government of India (GoI) should initiate dialogue with the militant leadership in Kashmir to end the “gun culture”.
“Right now, talks should be held with Pakistan and separatists. Similarly, the militant leadership should also be talked to as it is they who have the guns and only they can end the gun culture,” she told reporters in Anantnag after a party function.
“I believe at some stage, talks will have to be held with Hurriyat Conference and militants as well,” she said.
Mehbooba said local militants should be prevented from walking on the path of violence.
“Right from the time I came into politics in 1996, I have been saying that local militants are sons of the soil and our maximum efforts should be to save them because they are assets.
“If an encounter breaks out, the two people (militants and security forces) come face to face and no one can do anything about it then,” she said.
The PDP leader said that people of Kashmir “are upset with us but don’t hate us” for the party’s decision to align with BJP.
“We aligned with BJP to resolve the issue of Kashmir, our party is created for resolution of Kashmir issue, not to come to power,” she said.
“We are sure sooner people will understand why we joined hands with BJP and leave their grudge aside,” Mehbooba added.
On those who left the party, Mehbooba said that they were always against her and that they were the ones to woo BJP in 2016 after her father’s death.
“Those who left the party went to BJP and asked them to form a government because they had a lust for power. If I had not aligned with BJP, God knows what these leaders would have compromised to come into power,” the former BJP ally said.
On her statement on civilian killings that was criticised, she reiterated that she was “just being a mother”.
On rehabilitation of militant families, Mehbooba said that she has always been visiting those who have been affected in the conflict.
“I have been visiting affected families since the incident of Machil encounter,” Mehbooba stated.
On Farooq Abdullah’s statement on operation all out, she said that during National conference rule the former chief minister said that fake encounters were on rise.
“Thank God! there was no fake encounter during our rule,” she said.
In Kulgam, Omar trains guns at Guv, Mehbooba
‘Kuka Parrey would have been CM had my father not fought ‘96 polls; Guv should leave politics to us; As CM, Mehbooba could have done much more for militants’
Srinagar, Jan 15: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and vice-president National Conference (NC) Omar Abdullah on Tuesday said that Governor Satya Pal Malik’s job was not to interfere in state politics but to make the situation favourable for the elections so that people are able to take part in electoral process again.
“Governor (SP Malik) Sahab’s job is not to interfere in the politics here. Politics is our job. The sole responsibility of the Governor and his administration is to make the situation favourable to conduct elections so that people will once again take part in the election process,” Omar said during a rally in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.
Criticising the governor for his remark that there is no ‘Operation All-out’ in Kashmir, Omar said people are now confused as “on one hand we listen to (words like) operation all-out from the army and on another, we hear from the Governor that there was no such operation.”
“We will never support such operation where the people will suffer the most. The crackdowns, killings or excesses, whatever you will name them, even then we won’t support such operations,” Omar said.
He said that it needed to be understood what was forcing youth to take to militancy.
“We would like to understand these things and would try to address them accordingly,” Omar added.
Later while taking to reporters, the NC vice-president said had his party and former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah not contested 1996 election in the state then the notorious militant-turned renegade Kuka Parray would have been chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Nobody can deny this or even I can’t prove it, this is my belief that if Farooq Sahab and NC would not have contested 1996 elections then Kuka Parray would have been J&K CM. Whether or not anybody accepts this, it is up to them,” Omar said.
On PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, Omar said as J&K Chief Minister she could have done more for such families, but at that time she completely forgot them.
“She could have done well for these families when she was heading a government. She had good relations with Prime Minister. She was calling Defence Minister on phone and was also heading a powerful Unified Command,” he said.
“But at that time she never bothered to visit them,” he said adding: “Now, when she has nothing with her, and her party is in shambles, she is visiting these families,” Omar said.
On former IAS officer Shah Faesal, the NC vice-president said that it is for him to decide where he wants to go now after quitting his job.
“It’s his choice now where to go. If he wants to join NC then definitely we will discuss it. As Shah Faesal has quit his service for the people of Kashmir, it is he who has to decide how to work for the people,” he said.
He hoped that south Kashmir would give his party another chance in the next assembly elections.