Trial on Kathua gang-rape murder begins' accused plead not guilty

Bessie Dean
April 17, 2018

All pleaded not guilty and their counsel said that they were ready to undergo narco-tests.

The apex court had said that it is a settled law that a lawyer who appears for a victim or accused can not be prevented by any bar association or group of lawyers, for it is his duty to appear in support of his client.

The bench posted the matter for further hearing on April 27.

"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.

In January, a group of men, including cops, kidnapped an eight-year-old child of the nomadic Bakarwal community in Kathua. However, the Supreme Court's actions in the matter and the Indian civil society's demand for justice in the Kathua case have not simplified the challenges faced by the lawyer of the victim's family, lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat. They (police) may file a supplementary charge sheet.

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Meanwhile the sessions court will hear the case on April 28.

The SC issued a notice to the State government seeking a reply on the plea of the father of the victim that the case now being heard in a court in Kathua itself be transferred outside the state to ensure free trial.

Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud directed the state to provide adequate security also to Rajawat's family as well as Talib Hussain - a member of the Bakerwal community who is helping the victim's family. The top court also directed the J&K government to provide police protection to the victim's family members and the counsel representing them. The family had trouble even burying the body as some locals disallowed burial accusing the family of trying to occupy land in the name of a graveyard. Appearing for the victim's father, she told the Supreme Court, "The atmosphere is not conducive to a fair trial". She also added that she was pleased with the investigation by the police.

Sanji Ram, 60: He is the prime accused in the case. On January 13 Parves, Vishal and the juvenile took the victim from the temple to a nearby area and killed her.

According to the charge sheet file by Jammu and Kashmir Police, the girl was kept under sedatives, hungry, brutally tortured, gang-raped multiple times, strangulated and bludgeoned with a boulder to death.

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