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Kathua Rape And Murder: No CBI Probe, Says SC

Apex Court Also Seeks J&K Govt’s Response To Plea By Family For Trial In Chandigarh


New Delhi—The Supreme Court on Monday did not favour handing over the investigation into the rape-and-murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua from the crime branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police to the CBI as her father expressed satisfaction over the investigation carried out so far.

"In the absence of any allegation, why should we enter into this as to who should investigate," a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Mishra said, adding that it was "the primary duty of the state police to investigate a case".

The father expressed satisfaction with the probe conducted so far by the state police, while vehemently opposing the plea of senior advocate Bhim Singh and Delhi-based lawyer Anuja Kapur that the investigation be transferred to the CBI.

"Be that as it may, we do not intend to enter into this sphere (transfer of case to CBI) at this stage," the bench said, noting the submission of the victim's father.

At the outset, the victim's counsel Indira Jaising, who mentioned the matter for an urgent hearing in the forenoon, said the "biological father" of the victim had no grievance with regard to the police probe.

"We are not seeking transfer of investigation. The issue is that the atmosphere is not conducive (at Kathua) for fair trial and dispensation of justice," she said.

"Investigation is almost complete. Charge sheet has been filed. They (police) may file a supplementary charge sheet. The father of the victim has no problem with the police investigation," she said.

"We do not want CBI investigation. I am the father. We are satisfied with the investigation. Every accused has been identified. DNA samples have been matched," the lawyer said, adding that she hailed the state police.

The Jammu Bar Association and others had demanded transfer of the case to the CBI as they had no faith in the probe carried out by the crime branch.

The crime branch submitted two charge sheets against eight people including a juvenile for allegedly raping and murdering the girl in January this year.

The girl was abducted on January 10 in Jammu region’s Kathua district while grazing horses near her home. A retired revenue department official, Sanji Ram, planned the crimes against her, says the chargesheet.

Sanji Ram planned the abduction because he wanted to scare the Bakarwals and make them move out of Rassana village in the Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua, asserts the chargsheet. He allegedly enticed his nephew, a school dropout, into committing the crime, it says.

Eight people have been charged in the case: Sanji Ram, his nephew (juvenile), Sanji Ram’s son Vishal Jangotra, a friend of the nephew, a police sub-inspector, a head constable and two special police officers. The nephew was first identified as a juvenile although the charge sheet said a medical test showed him to be 19-years-old.

The nephew allegedly told Sanji Ram’s son, Vishal Jangotra, in Meerut over the phone about the abduction of the girl and asked him to come to Kathua “if he wanted to satisfy his lust”.

The policemen were supposed to help destroy evidence and cover up the crime in exchange for bribes, says the chargesheet.

The girl was held in a temple identified as Devasthan, which is run by Sanji Ram, after she was kidnapped, drugged constantly and subjected to multiple rapes including gang rape.

Accused Seeks Narco Analysis Test, Seek Bail

The eight people accused of raping and killing an eight-year-old in January last in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir, on Monday pleaded not guilty and asked the judge for a narco analysis test.

As the trial in the case, which has become the focal point of outrage across the country, began in Kathua, seven of the accused were produced before District and Sessions Judge Sanjay Gupta, who asked the State Crime Branch to give them copies of the charge sheet and fixed April 28 as the next date of hearing.

The eighth accused is a juvenile, who has moved a bail application before the chief judicial magistrate. The matter was posted for April 26.

The child from a minority nomadic community was allegedly held in captivity in a small village temple in Kathua district for a week in sedation and sexually assaulted before being bludgeoned to death.

'Carefully planned strategy'

According to the charge sheet filed by the Crime Branch, the abduction, rape and killing of the girl was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the nomadic community from the area. A separate charge sheet was filed for the juvenile.

Counsel for the accused demanded a copy of the charge sheet filed by the Crime Branch on April 9 before the chief judicial magistrate.

Immediately after the brief hearing in the sessions court, the accused were shifted back to the jail under heavy security.

Special police officer Deepak Khajuria, who is alleged to have repeatedly raped the child, said from the police van that he was also demanding a narco test, also known as the “truth test”, and a CBI probe.

As the trial began inside the court, main accused Sanji Ram’s daughter Madhu Sharma protested outside, demanding a CBI probe.

There was heavy police presence at the Kathua court complex following the tension on April 9 when members of the local bar association did not allow the Crime Branch to submit the charge sheet in the case.

Sanji Ram, caretaker of the ‘devisthan’ in the village in Kathua, about 90 km from Jammu, is listed as the main conspirator behind the crime.

He was allegedly joined by special police officers 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 ₹4 lakh from Ram and destroyed crucial evidence.

Narco Analysis test

The issue of providing the accused copies of the “challan”, or the charge sheet, was raised before the judge by lawyer Ankush Sharma, who is pleading the case for Sanji Ram, his son and others

He said the charge sheet was presented in court on April 9 but copies had not yet been provided.

Ram told the judge that they wanted narco tests and were ready for them.

The judge asked the accused whether they were given copies of the charge sheet, which runs into 400 pages, added A.K. Sawahney, who is representing head constable Tilak Raj.

He said Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had been talking about a fast-track trial but copies of the charge sheet had still not been provided to them.

In a narco Analysis test, the subject is injected with sodium pentothal or sodium amytal. The dose is dependent on the person’s sex, age, health and physical condition. It does not have any legal sanctity as evidence until a court gives permission to conduct these tests. The test only helps as corroborative and not as primary evidence, say legal experts.

After BCI Rap, Jammu Lawyers Back To Work

Jammu: A day after The Jammu High Court Bar Association (JHCBA) on Monday resumed work after staying away from courts for 12 days in support of their various demands including handing over the Kathua rape and murder case to CBI.

The decision to resume work was taken at a general house meeting of the JHCBA held under the chairmanship of its president B S Slathia here.

"The general house decided to temporarily suspend the agitation, responding to the appeal of Bar Council of India (BCI), and the Supreme Court taking cognizance of the issue (Kathua rape and murder case)," Slathia told PTI.

All eight Kathua rape and murder accused plead not guilty in trial court, ask for narco test

The JHCBA went on a four-day strike initially on April 4 in support of four demands, which included clarity from the government on tribal affairs and district status to Nowshehra sub-division in Rajouri district.

It later extended the strike till April 17.

The JHCBA also sponsored a general strike in Jammu on April 11 but faced severe criticism from various quarters.

Slathia, however, said the bar would continue its agitation over only two issues deportation of Rohingyas and clarity on tribal affairs.

"We will continue our agitation on two issues. We have only changed the mode of the agitation. We will continue our professional duties but simultaneously hold dharnas (sit-ins) and candle marches to make people aware about our demands to ensure early deportation of Rohingyas," he said.

The BCI yesterday asked the Jammu and Kathua Bar associations to call off their strike and decided to send a five-member team headed by a former High Court Chief Justice to investigate the alleged incident of misconduct on part of the lawyers there in connection with the Kathua rape-murder case.

BCI chairman and senior advocate Manan Kumar Mishra had told reporters that if any lawyer is found guilty, then the council will go to the extent of cancelling the legal practise licence.

The bar councils decision came after its general body meeting which was convened in the backdrop of the apex court's notice to it.

The Supreme Court had taken suo moto cognisance of the strike call by the Kathua and the Jammu and Kashmir bar associations in connection with the gang-rape and killing of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu region and issued a notice to the bar bodies.

The Bar Association of Jammu had on April 13 said that it was extending its strike till April 17 against the "growing illegal presence of Rohingyas and Bangladeshi nationals," while alleging that its agitation for a CBI probe into the Kathua rape-cum-murder case was wrongly being portrayed as "communal".

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