The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a plea seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the Kathua rape and murder case, media reports said. The case had sparked vociferous protests across the country seeking measures for the protection of girls and women from sexual assault.
The apex court order comes shortly after Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti spoke out against a CBI inquiry in the matter. Mufti had said there is "absolutely no need for a CBI inquiry" into the incident.
The court has transferred the case to Pathankot in Punjab. It has also passed a slew of directions for the manner in which the case should proceed — including fast-tracking of the case, in-camera trial and daily hearing. The court has also said that the Jammu and Kashmir government is free to appoint a special public prosecutor to conduct the case.
Speaking to reporters after the order, the victim's lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat said, "We are very thankful to the Supreme Court for the verdict. The basic concern is to ensure a fair trial and speedy justice."
According to a report in Firstpost, while the victim's family said that they were satisfied with the probe by the Crime Branch, the residents of the village where the incident occurred had sought a CBI probe.
The Supreme Court was dealing with the plea of the victim's father for shifting the trial to Chandigarh and the plea of the accused seeking handing over the probe to CBI.
The victim, an eight-year-old girl from a minority nomadic community, had disappeared from near her home in a village near Kathua in the Jammu region on 10 January. Her body was found in the same area a week later.
The apex court had earlier given a stern warning and said it would transfer the Kathua gangrape-and-murder case from the local court in the "slightest possibility" of lack of fair trial, saying the "real concern" was to hold proper prosecution.
The girl's father had moved the apex court earlier, apprehending threat to the family, a friend and their lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat. A separate plea was also filed by two accused seeking that the trial in the case is held in Jammu and the probe handed over to the CBI.
The state police's Crime Branch, which probed the case, filed the main chargesheet against seven persons and a separate chargesheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district last week. The chargesheet revealed chilling details about how the girl was allegedly kidnapped, drugged and raped inside a place of worship before being killed.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: May 07, 2018 15:52 PM