Kathua gangrape: SC disposes of suo moto writ petition

NEW DELHI, July 30:
The Supreme Court considered today the submission of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association (JKHCBA) that it should dispose of the suo moto cognizance of the Kathua gangrape and murder case in which it has taken strong note of some lawyers obstructing the judicial process.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud took note of the submission by senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, appearing for the JKHCBA, that the trial in the matter has already been shifted to Pathankot in Punjab and has commenced as per its order.

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Noting the submissions of the JKHCBA, the bench disposed off the matter.
The top court had on April 13 taken strong note of some lawyers obstructing the judicial process in the Kathua gangrape and murder case and initiated a case on its own record, saying such impediment “affects the dispensation of justice and would amount to obstruction of access to justice”.
It had said that it is a settled law that a lawyer who appears for a victim or accused cannot be prevented by any bar association or group of lawyers, for it is his duty to appear in support of his client.
A Bar Council of India (BCI’s) committee had supported the demand of the lawyers’ body there for a CBI probe in the matter saying the Bar Associations in Kathua had not obstructed the police or the counsel representing the victim’s family in any manner.
The Apex Court had earlier transferred the trial of the Kathua gangrape and murder case to Pathankot in Punjab and directed that the trial should be held in-camera, be fast-tracked and conducted on a day-to-day basis to avoid any delay.
The top court had 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 had said the trial must be fair to the victim’s family as well as the accused.
It had 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 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 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.
The charge sheet has revealed chilling details about how the girl was allegedly kidnapped, drugged and raped inside a place of worship before being killed. (PTI)