SC Orders Transfer of Accused in Kathua Case to Gurdaspur Jail,Punjab [Read Order]
The Supreme Court has ordered that the accused persons in Kathua rape-murder case should be shifted from Kathua Jail, Jammu and Kashmir to Gurdaspur District Jail, Punjab.
The order was issued on the basis of submission made by Indira Jaising, Senior Advocate appearing for the victim's family, that a lot of time is lost in commuting the accused from Kathua to Pathankhot, Punjab, to where the trial of the case was transferred by SC.
It may be recalled that on May 7, the Court had transferred the trial of the case out of J&K to District and Sessions Court, Pathankot. The transfer was made accepting the submissions made on behalf of victim's family that fair trial may not be possible in J&K, as the "accused enjoy a special status in Kathua". The Court had also taken note of the protest made by local lawyers of Kathua, which obstructed the filing of charge-sheet by the police against the accused.
It was submitted on behalf of Stae of J&K by Shekhar Naphade, Senior Advocate, that charge-sheet had already been filed, and that a supplementary charge-sheet was going to be filed within six to eight weeks.
Naphade also submitted that the SC direction to hold in-camera proceedings were getting frustrated as the seven accused persons have engaged as many as 51 advocates.
The SC directed the trial judge to ensure that only the accused, their lawyers, public prosecutor and his team, and the court staff are present during the Court proceedings.
The order was issued by bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M Khanwilkar and Justice D Y Chandrachud.
The Court also took note of the submission of Indira Jaising that High Court was not able to entertain petitions regarding the case, as the SC order of May 7 prohibited other courts from dealing with the case. Therefore, that portionon of May 7 order was modified enabling High Court of Punjab & Haryana to deal with petitions pertaining to the case.
The Court also ordered that if the relatives of the accused wished to meet them in Gurdaspur, State of J&K should bear their travel expenses, having regard to the "exceptional circumstances of the case". The directions issued by the Court are the following :-
i) The supplementary chargesheet, as indicated by Naphade, after obtaining instructions, shall be filed within eight weeks;
(ii) The learned trial Judge shall ensure that the proceedings are held incamera converting the courtroom to be so and barring the persons mentioned hereinabove, no one shall be allowed entry;
(iii) The accused persons who are presently lodged in Kathua jail shall be shifted to District Jail, Gurdaspur, Punjab. The relatives of the accused will have the right to visit them at Gurdaspur jail within the visiting hours.
(iv) If any of the relatives of the accused would like to meet the accused persons at Gurdaspur and such a request is made, the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall pay the expenses for his/her travel according to prescribed norms. Be it clarified, we have passed this direction, regard being had to the exceptional circumstances of this case.
(v) The State of Punjab shall provide security to the learned trial Judge and shall also secure the court premises where the trial is being held. We have directed the Punjab Government to do so as the court is situated in the State of Punjab;
(vi) As far as the Special Public Prosecutor is concerned, he shall be provided security, as and when asked for, by the State of Jammu & Kashmir; and
(vii) If any accused or the family of the victim is aggrieved by any order passed by the trial court, they are entitled to approach the High Court of Punjab & Haryana as that would be the High Court for the purpose of dealing with the matters arising out of the said trial. Direction no. (xiii) issued vide order dated 07.05.2018 stands modified accordingly.
It was during January 2018 that the rape and murder of an eight-year child in Kathua happened.
Read the Order Here