“Our Real Concern” Is fair trial, says Supreme Court on Kathua rape case

Kathua rape case: Lawyers belonging to the Kathua Bar Association held protests at the court premises and for hours, stopped police officers from entering the court to file a chargesheet.

NEW DELHI: There should be fair trial in the rape and murder of the 8-year-old child in Kathua and the case will be transferred out if there is any possibility that it might not happen, the Supreme Court said today. The horrific rape and murder of the child which evoked nationwide fury, reached the Supreme Court after the family’s advocate said she had faced huge obstruction from lawyers at a Jammu court during filing of the chargesheet.

“Our first and constitutional concern is to ensure fair trial, protect the lawyer for the victims and, if necessary, transfer the case,” said Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, who headed a bench that would hear an appeal tomorrow to transfer the case, filed by the child’s family.

The eight-year-old’s father had moved court earlier, expressing apprehensions about a threat to the family and their lawyer Deepika Rajawat. While expressing satisfaction with the investigation by the Jammu and Kashmir police, he also sought transfer of the trial from Kathua to Chandigarh in view of the Jammu lawyers’ stance.

The horrific rape and murder, which, the police said was an attempt to terrorise and push out the nomadic Muslim Bakerwal community from Hindu majority areas of Jammu, triggered a backlash in the state. Rallies were held in support of the accused and lawyers at a Jammu court had objected to the filing of the chargesheet in the case. The lawyers also sought a CBI investigation into the issue.

Advocate Deepika Rajawat complained that members of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association had threatened her, demanding that she does not appear in the case. The Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association has denied the allegation.

Today, the Bar Council of India told the court that its internal inquiry, led by a retired High Court judge, had found the demand for a CBI investigation “justified”. The committee also concluded that the lawyers had not obstructed the filing of the chargesheet in the case.

Earlier this month, lawyers belonging to the Kathua bar association held protests at the court premises and stopped Crime Branch officials from entering the court for hours. Later, after additional security was sent in, the Crime Branch officials filed a chargesheet in the case.