SC orders shifting of Kathua rape accused to Punjab jail (Lead)

July 9 2018
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the shifting of seven accused in rape-murder of a eight-year-old minor nomadic girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua to the district jail in Punjab’s Gurdaspur.

Seven of the eighth accused facing trial in the rape-murder case are currently lodged in Kathua district jail. The remained accused is a juvenile.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice D.Y.Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra ordered the shifting of seven accused as senior counsel Indira Jaising told the court the purpose of holding day to day hearing has been defeated as the actual trial was taking only for a couple of hours since a lot of time was being lost in bringing the accused from Kathua jail to Pathankot.

The bench said that if any of the accused’s relatives would like to meet the accused persons, at Gurdaspur and such a request is made, the Jammu & Kashmir government shall bear the expenses of their travel in accordance with the prescribed norms.

The court also clarified that it has passed this direction in view of the exceptional circumstances of this case.

The supplementary charge sheet, the court directed, would be filed in within eight weeks.

Transferring the trial in the case from Kathua to Pathankot in Punjab on May 7, the top court had ordered that the Pathankot District and Sessions Judge would hold the trial in-camera and on day-to-day with no adjournments.

Directing that the trial judge would ensure that the proceedings are held in camera, the court said that the court room would be converted for in camera proceedings.

The court said no one except the accused, their lawyers, the special public prosecutor and his team and the court staff concerned are allowed to remain present and assist the court during the trial.

It said that the trial judge would make all endeavours to secure the atmosphere for the trial and the Punjab and Haryana High Court would be approached by the contesting parties if aggrieved with any of its orders.

The court also directed the J&K government to provide security to the Special Public Prosecutor, as and when it is asked and the Punjab government to provide the security to the trial court judge and also secure the court premises.

The Pathankot court had framed charges against seven accused on June 7.

The top court’s order came on a plea by the victim child’s father who had moved the court seeking the transfer of trial from Kathua to Chandigarh.

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