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Would ensure free, speedy trial in Kathua case: SC

New Delhi, Apr 26: The Supreme Court on Thursday, while hearing a petition regarding the Kathua rape and murder case, said that the Court’s primary concern was to ensure a fair and speedy trial.
The Court heard the suo-moto writ petition filed against the members of Kathua and Jammu High Court Bar Associations regarding obstruction of filing of chargesheet in the matter.
The counsel for the bar associations submitted that the inquiry report submitted by the Bar Council of India (BCI) found that the protests demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe in the case were “justified”. The counsel also claimed that the media had misreported the entire episode.
However, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra reminded everyone that the main issue was justice to the victim. He said: “Let the main issue not be missed. We’re concerned about fair trial for both the parties. Let’s not digress. It is through the Bar that a fair trial can be achieved. Let’s stick to the victim’s case.”
CJI Misra further noted that the real concern of the Court is to see that a fair trial is carried out. He stressed that it should be fair to both the accused as well as to the family members of the victim.
Speaking on the plea to transfer the case out of Jammu & Kashmir so as to ensure a fair trial, CJI Misra said that the Supreme Court will hear the same on Friday.
On the transfer of the case, the court said the convenience of the complainant cannot be the sole consideration for transferring a criminal case out of the state.
“Courts have to consider the convenience of the accused, prosecution witness and larger interest of the society. That the trial in the charge sheet has commenced at Kathua and there is no apprehension on behalf of the complainant for any threat or coercion of prosecution witnesses,” it said.
Appearing for the father of the eight-year-old girl who was gangraped and murdered in Kathua in January, Advocate Indira Jaising had last week said the trial in the case should be transferred to Chandigarh as “the atmosphere” in Kathua “is highly polarised” and hence “a fair trial will not be possible” there. There was “direct attack on the counsel of the father”, Jaising said, and added that the petition had suggested Chandigarh only due to its proximity.
Chief Justice further noted: “Apart from fairness, the concept of speedy trial also gets attracted. Both the sides should be given necessary legal assistance. The primary concern of this case is fair trial, legal assistance and if necessary, transfer of case (out of Jammu and Kashmir).”
He assured Senior Counsel Indira Jaising, who is appearing for the victim, that if slightest possibility of lack of fair trial is found, the Court will transfer the case.
The case regarding demand for fair and speedy trial will come up before the Supreme Court on Friday, whereas the matter looking into the conduct of Jammu and Kathua lawyers is listed to be heard in July.
Meanwhile, the Jammu & Kashmir High Court began hearing a petition filed seeking transfer of the investigation to the CBI yesterday. Justice AlokAradhe issued notice in the petition, and held,
“The question of interim relief as well as question of maintainability of the writ petition shall be examined on the next date of hearing. It is made clear that the trial court shall be free to proceed ahead with the trial of the case.”
The Court agreed to hear the petition of the two prime accused in Kathua gang rape and murder case, who are opposing the plea of the victim’s father seeking transfer of trial outside Jammu, preferably to Chandigarh.
On the issue of alleged obstruction by lawyers in the case, the bench said, “If the lawyers are at fault, they will be dealt with in accordance with the law.”
Sanji Ram and Vishal Jangotra, who were chargesheeted by the crime branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police in the case, have sought transfer of the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) besides seeking to be impleaded as parties in the petition filed by the father of the victim.
The duo had moved the top court on Wednesday, saying they had been falsely implicated. “It is humbly stated that the applicants are necessary and proper parties as their rights and interest are bound to be affected by the outcome of the writ petition,” they said in their plea. The accused added that Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees fair investigation as well as trial to the accused.
“Therefore, the investigation must be fair, transparent and judicious as it is the minimum requirement of rule of law. The investigating agency cannot be permitted to conduct an investigation in a tainted and biased manner,” the plea said.