Kathua Case: SC Allows 3 Witnesses To Approach J&K HC For Protection From Harassment By Police [Read Order]
The Supreme Court on Monday granted liberty to witnesses who were the classmates of Vishal Jangotra, one of the accused in the Kathua gangrape and murder case, to approach the Jammu & Kashmir High Court on the ground of harassment by the state police.
Advocate Ravi Sharma submitted that there were allegations of torture by the investigating agency. He prayed for directing an inquiry against the authorities for the torture and the sufferings that have been meted out to them
Senior Advocate Gopal Subramnium submitted that the petitioners who are three in number are treated as witnesses and they have already been examined and the investigation had never thought of implicating them as accused persons.
Disposing the petitions the three Judge Bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra said;
"In view of the aforesaid, we think it appropriate to grant liberty to the petitioners to move the concerned High Court for redressal of the grievances by taking recourse to appropriate remedy. However, grant of liberty should not be construed as an expression of any kind of doubt with regard to the investigation process. We do not intend to say any more on this score".
After the apex court transferred the trial in the offence from J&K to Pathankot district in Punjab, the said persons, being three students of a college in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, had approached the court under Article 32, praying that the petitioners, having been made witnesses thereto, be accompanied by two lawyers when summoned by the Crime Branch of the J&K Police and that they may be accorded protection by Central Security Forces.
On May 17, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice AM Khanwilkar had allowed a relative to remain within reasonably visible distance when the petitioners are summoned as witnesses by the state police in connection with the Kathua gangrape and murder.
The bench had noted: “We hope and trust the State shall carry the investigation in a most fair manner without pressurizing the witnesses. A relative of each of the witnesses shall be allowed to accompany him, but the said relative shall not enter into the investigation room. However, he shall remain at a reasonably visible distance.”
However, it had been clarified that from the “aforesaid directions, it should not remotely be inferred that there is any kind of harassment by the investigating agency”.
The bench had also required the state of J&K to file its reply in the meantime.
On Monday, senior counsel Gopal Subramanium, appearing on behalf of the state, relayed to the court that the petitioners have already been examined and their statements recorded and that they shall not be joined as accused in the matter.
The bench disposed of the petition, allowing the three witnesses to approach the J&K High Court in respect of their grievances.
Read the Order Here