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CBI probe plea dismissed, case transferred to Pathankot

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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.