In an interesting turn of events, two of those accused for the rape and murder of an eight year old girl in Kathua have now come to the defence of the Jammu State Bar Associations, which have been censured for allegedly siding with the accused and preventing members of the state police from filing a chargesheet in the matter in front of the Chief Judicial Magistrate.
In their counter-affidavit, Sanji Ram and Vishal Jangotra, who have been charge-sheeted by the crime branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police in the case, also parroted the Associations' demand for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the incident on Friday.
They have in fact asserted that they have "ample proof on record to show that the accused persons are being threatened and their rights are being violated as enshrined under Article 21 of the constitution of India. That in the interest of justice and fair play the further investigation be handed over to CBI to unearth the actual culprits and give justice to victim."
They further contend that the investigation being undertaken by the State Police has not been fair so far, submitting, "...the state machinery especially crime branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police has miserably failed in carrying out a fair and effective investigation. The investigation as carried by the crime branch in falsely implicating the Respondents herein would go to show that the same was tainted and motivated. The Respondents herein in the interest of justice and upholding the majesty of law pray this Hon'ble Court to direct CBI to investigate the whole matter..."
They have however opposed the plea for transfer of the trial outside Kathua Court to Chandigarh, submitting, "...rule of law must prevail and every one shall get a free and fair trial which includes accused, and complainant under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
That apart the trial is pending before learned principal District and sessions Judge, Kathua and total accused are eight in number and total prosecution witnesses are 221. That it will be impossible for these 221 witnesses to attend the court hearings as to Chandigarh which is approximately 265 kms."
The accused go on to allege that "an imaginary story has been planted by the Petitioner" and that a "tainted and fabricated investigation" has been carried out by the State Police. They also allege physical torture in custody, which they said led to a coerced confession from one of the accused.
The counter-affidavit further addresses the allegations made by Ms. Deepika Singh Rajawat, the Counsel appearing before the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on behalf of the victim's family. Curiously, it largely reiterates the submissions made by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association in its affidavit filed before the Supreme Court.
Much like the Bar Association's affidavit, the accused have highlighted discrepancies in Ms. Rajawat's assertions, submitting, "Further a complaint dated 9.4.2018 has been lodged by Ms. Deepika Singh Rajawat before Hon'ble Chief Justice (Acting) of High Court of Jammu & Kashmir, alleging obstruction on 4.4.2018 where as in "Times of India" Newspaper she has reported threat on 11.4.2018..."
The accused then come to the defence of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association as well as the Kathua Bar Association, submitting that the media has wrongly reported that they were siding with them.