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Kathua case : SC asks JK to file reply by Apr 27

New Delhi, Apr 16: The Supreme Court of India Monday asked J&K government to file a reply by April 27 on whether a plea to transfer the Kathua rape and murder case from the state’s courts to Chandigarh should be allowed.

The apex court was hearing a petition filed by the father of the victim, an 8-year-old-girl, who was abducted, gang-raped and murdered between January 10 and 17 in Rassana, a village in Kathua district.

The father of the victim, through his counsels, pleaded that he was not expecting a fair in Kathua given the protests by the lawyers there in support of the accused.

He also raised the issues relating to witness protection, protection for the victim’s family as well as the lawyer and the social activist who have been helping the family get justice.

Shoeb Alam, the counsel for J&K, told the apex court that the state has “provided adequate protection to the family members of the victim, and has no objection to provide security to the counsel appearing for the victim.”

“As far as transfer of the case is concerned, he intends to file a reply,” the SC said.

The Supreme Court directed the State to keep the security, as provided to the family members of the victim, in continuity.

It also directed the state to provide security to Deepika Singh Rajawat the lawyer representing the victim, and her (lawyer’s) family members.

 “Protection shall be provided to Talib Hussain, who is assisting the victim’s family in prosecution of the grievance by remaining present in the Court or engaging counsel to assist the public prosecutor,” read the proceedings of the case on Monday.

During the hearing, the victim’s father expressed satisfaction with the probe so far, conducted by Jammu and Kashmir Police and opposed the plea for CBI investigation demanded by others.

The bench said those policemen providing security to the victim’s family and others will be in plain clothes.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud was also critical of the Jammu High Court Bar Association, which had passed a resolution not to attend the courts saying “it is the duty of the bar association as a collective body and they cannot obstruct the process of law”.

According to the charge sheets filed by the crime branch, the abduction, rape and killing of the Bakerwal girl was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area.

It lists the caretaker of ‘Devisthan’, a small temple, in a village in Kathua, as the main conspirator behind the crime.

Sanji Ram was allegedly joined by special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, friend Parvesh Kumar alias Mannu, Ram’s nephew, a juvenile, and his son Vishal Jangotra alias “Shamma”.

The charge sheet also names investigating officers head constable Tilak Raj and Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Ram and destroyed crucial evidence.

All eight are under arrest.

The crime branch will also be handing over the notices issued to the Jammu Bar Council as well as Kathua Bar Council for appearing before the Supreme Court on April 19.

The Bar Association of Kathua has already retracted from its earlier statement of providing legal assistance free of cost to the accused and said after going through the charge sheet presented by the crime branch (against the accused in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate on April 9) it is revealed that the allegations against the accused persons are very grave and as such this case is to be dealt with in a professional way.

Members of the same association had blocked the way of crime branch personnel from submitting the charge sheet before the chief judicial magistrate for six hours forcing the police to present it at the house of the magistrate.

Police have already registered a case against lawyers for obstructing public servants from performing their duty.