New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Jammu and Kashmir government to provide security to the family of the eight-year-old Kathua gangrape and murder victim, their lawyer and a family friend assisting them in prosecuting the case. The apex court also took note of a plea of the victim’s father seeking transfer of the trial of the case from Kathua, preferably to Chandigarh and sought response of the state government.
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.
“Be that as it may, we do not intend to enter into this sphere (transfer of case to CBI) at this stage,” a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said, while taking note of the submission that the victim’s father was satisfied with the police probe so far.
The bench also took note of the apprehension with regard to the security and asked the state to provide adequate security personnel, in plain clothes to the victim’s family, their lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat and family friend Talid Hussain.
“As an interim measure, it is directed that the Jammu and Kashmir Police to beef up the security and provide adequate security personnel to the family, Deepika Singh Rajawat and family friend Talid Hussain,” the bench said. It also sought response of the state government by 27 April, the next date of hearing, to the specific prayer that the trial in the case be transferred out of Kathua court to Chandigarh in view of the communally surcharged atmosphere prevailing in Jammu town.
The bench also directed the state police to provide adequate security to the juvenile delinquent, who has been picked up in relation to the case at the observation home under the law. It said that it will only hear the persons related to the case. During the hearing, it was clarified that the petition was filed by the victim’s father and Delhi-based lawyer Anuja Kapur.
Earlier in the day, the bench agreed to give an urgent hearing to the petitions which were mentioned by senior advocate Indira Jaising.
It was reported that Rajawat, who is the lawyer for the victim’s family in trial court, has filed a petition on her own name seeking protection as she was receiving threats for representing the affected family.
However, later, it was clarified that the father of the victim filed the petition and another petition was filed by the Delhi-based advocate seeking a CBI probe into the case. The top court had on 13 April taken strong note of some lawyers obstructing the judicial process in the gangrape and murder case and initiated a case on its own record, saying such impediment “affects the dispensation of justice and would amount to obstruction of access to justice”.
It had said that it is a settled law that a lawyer who appears for a victim or accused cannot be prevented by any bar association or group of lawyers, for it is his duty to appear in support of his client.
The minor girl had disappeared from near her home in the forests in Kathua, on 10 January. Her body was found in the same area a week later. The Crime Branch of police which probed the case filed the main charge sheet against seven persons and a separate charge sheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district. Jammu has been on tenterhooks since the brutal incident. The bar associations have been opposing the action against the accused, alleging that the minority Dogras were being targeted.
Lawyers took to the streets shouting slogans and trying to block the road outside the court where the charge sheets have been filed.