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Supreme Court Transfers Kathua Rape and Murder Trial to Pathankot, Refuses CBI Probe

The Jammu and Kashmir government could appoint a special public prosecutor and it was up to them to make sure that the witnesses are produced on time. The SC also ordered that the media should not be gagged in the case.

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Updated:May 7, 2018, 4:19 PM IST
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Supreme Court Transfers Kathua Rape and Murder Trial to Pathankot, Refuses CBI Probe
Nationwide protests had erupted across India demanding Justice in the Kathua and Unnao rape cases. (Reuters)
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday vacated the stay on the trial in the Kathua rape and murder case and transferred it outside Jammu and Kashmir to Pathankot in Punjab.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra directed that the trial should be held in-camera, be fast-tracked and conducted on a day-to-day basis to avoid any delay. It also declined to entertain pleas to transfer the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The top court also said the trial would be carried out in accordance with the provisions of Ranbir Penal Code, which is applicable in Jammu and Kashmir. The apex court said the trial must be fair to the victim's family as well as the accused.

It also ordered continuation of security to the family members of the victim, family friends and lawyer representing them and directed translation of statements and records of the case from Urdu to English.

"The security provided to the juvenile accused will continue," a bench, which also comprised Justices D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, said and posted the matter for further hearing in July when the apex court reopens after the summer vacation.

The bench made it clear that Monday's hearing was confined to the issue of shifting the trial of the case out of Jammu and Kashmir.

The victim, an eight-year-old girl from a minority nomadic community, had disappeared from near her home in a village close to Kathua in the Jammu region on January 10. Her body was found in the same area a week later.

The Jammu and Kashmir government could appoint a special public prosecutor in the case, the SC said, adding that it was up to them to make sure that the witnesses are produced on time. The SC also ordered that the media should not be gagged in the case.

The J&K government had submitted to the apex court that it was ready for a fair trial in the state and had opposed the transfer.

The apex court had earlier given a stern warning and said it would transfer the Kathua gangrape-and-murder case from the local court in the "slightest possibility" of lack of fair trial, saying the "real concern" was to hold proper prosecution.

The girl's father had moved the apex court earlier, apprehending threat to the family, a friend and their lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat. A separate plea was also filed by two accused seeking that the trial in the case is held in Jammu and the probe handed over to the CBI.

The state police's Crime Branch, 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 last week. The charge sheet revealed chilling details about how the girl was allegedly kidnapped, drugged and raped inside a place of worship before being killed.

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| Edited by: Aditya Nair
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