New DelhiTwo accused of the Kathua rape case have approached the Supreme Court, opposing a plea made by the victim’s father to transfer the trial in the gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl child on January 12, from a sessions court over there to Chandigarh.
In an application, accused Sanji Ram and Vishal Jangotra sought their impleadment in the petition filed by the victim’s father.
They said that convenience of the complainant cannot be the sole criterion for transferring a criminal case out of state.
The convenience of the accused, prosecution witnesses and larger interest of the society has to be considered.
The charge sheet in the matter has already been filed and there is no apprehension or threat or coercion of witnesses, they said.
Maintaining that they were “falsely implicated in the matter”, the petitioners contended that the investigating agency cannot be allowed to conduct the probe in a biased and tainted manner.
“Fair investigation and fair trial are sine quo non for preservation of the fundamanetal right of an accused under Article 21 of the Constitution,” their plea said. Meanwhile, the Jammu Bar Association also filed an aidavit, denying issuance of any threat to victim’s counsel Deepika Rajawat. The top court had earlier directed for providing police protection to the advocate.
Govt, Lawyers Differ On Challan Obstruction
The Jammu and Kashmir government today told the Supreme Court that the “protests” and “obstructions” forced the police to file the charge sheet in the Kathua gangrape and murder case at the residence of the magistrate, a charge denied by the two lawyers’ body which claimed that an administrative decision was taken by the crime branch.
The Kathua Bar Association and Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association said the lawyers had not created any obstruction for the police and added that the crime branch had taken an administrative decision in its own wisdom to file the charge sheet at the residence of the Chief Judicial Magistrate.
Detailing the sequence of incidents of April 9 when the police team comprising members of SIT and Crime Branch, Jammu had arrived at the CJM court, the state government told the court that “due to the sloganeering and environment, the accused were kept in the van with their escort within the complex and were not taken out”.
“The officers of the SIT attempted to approach the court of the CJM in the court complex. Agitating members of the Kathua Bar accosted them and continued their sloganeering, asking the crime branch to return back,” it said.
The state government in its affidavit said that its two officers and the CPO somehow managed to make their way to the chambers of the CJM.
“The other officers accompanying the team were heckled and prevented from even reaching the court of the CJM,” it said adding that sloganeering even continued inside the chambers of the judge by the lawyers who barged into the room.
“Thereafter attempts were made to humiliate and threaten the officers to leave the court premises and prevent the filing of the charge sheet and its acceptance,” it said.
The government said that in view of the continuing protests, the CJM thereafter advised the officers that the charge sheet against the juvenile be presented at his residence in the evening.
It said that charge sheet was presented filed and the accused were presented before the CJM at 9 PM at his residence and accused were ordered to be sent to judicial custody.
The government said that an FIR was also registered by the local police in the incident of obstruction by lawyers.
The High Court Bar Association at Jammu in its affidavit said that allegation of obstruction by its members was factually incorrect and emphatically denied and blamed the media for a “vilification campaign”.
The association, however said that since the charge sheet was filed in Kathua, the district lawyers’ body can explain the issue in a better way.
The Kathua Lawyers’ body in its affidavit told the apex court that “no where it has been stated in the committal order of the CJM that the members of Bar association at Kathua ever stopped the crime branch to produce the accused persons in the CJM court”. Denying the allegation of obstruction by advocates, it said, “It is evident that the crime branch of its own wisdom and in light of the volatile situation in the locality took an administrative of not producing the accused in the court at the time of presenting the charge sheet without being stopped by the lawyers”.
On April 13, the apex court on took strong note of some lawyers obstructing the judicial process in the Kathua gangrape and murder case and had initiated a case on its own record saying such impediment “affects the dispensation of justice and would amount to obstruction of access to justice”.
The top court was 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”.
The court had issued notice to the Bar Council of India, the state Bar Council, High Court Bar Association at Jammu and Kathua District Bar Association and sought their replies by April 19.
The minor girl had disappeared from near her home in the forests next to Rasana village in Kathua, on January 10.
Her body was found in the same area a week later.
The Crime Branch of police which probed the case filed a main charge sheet against seven persons and a separate charge sheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district earlier this week.
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.
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