In a highly-anticipated ruling, the Supreme Court on Monday transferred the trial in the Kathua rape and murder case from Jammu and Kashmir to Pathankot in Punjab. The apex court, however, refrained from handing over the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), saying there was no need to do so, as the investigation had been conducted and the chargesheet was filed.
The decision evoked mixed reactions. While Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti welcomed the court's decision, noting that it would go a "long way" in boosting the morale of the state police, the Jammu and Kashmir Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that shifting the trial to Pathankot "gives a wrong impression about Jammu and Kashmir".
Have full faith in the judiciary: Victim's father
The father of the eight-year-old girl who was raped and killed in Kathua welcomed the court's decision to transfer the case to Pathankot, and said he had full faith in the judiciary.
"We only want justice… I have full faith in the judiciary and the government," he told PTI over the phone from Ramban district where he is camping with other members of his family. "We don't favour a CBI probe either. We do not know the CBI, and our only desire is that justice is done...," he said.
The victim's father had earlier said he devoted his life to ensure justice for his daughter. "I am satisfied with the police investigation and will not rest till justice is done in the case. I want the accused to be given exemplary punishment for their brutality," he had said.
Reacting to the apex court's decision, Deepika Rajawat, who is representing the victim, said, "We are hoping for a fair trial now."
Decision will boost morale of police: Mehbooba Mufti
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti noted the decision to hand the case over to the CBI "will go a long way" in boosting the morale of the state police. She also lauded the police for leaving "no stone unturned" to ensure justice for the victim's family.
I welcome today’s decision by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the Kathua case. This will go a long way to boost the morale of our @JmuKmrPolice force who in the face of great adversity have left no stone unturned to ensure that the deceased’s family gets justice.
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) May 7, 2018
Earlier, the chief minister had said that there was "absolutely no need for a CBI inquiry" into the case, and added that "if you don't trust Jammu and Kashmir Police, there is no one left to be trusted in the state".
Sanji Ram's family dismayed
According to The Indian Express, family members and relatives of Sanji Ram, the prime accused in the case, who have been on a hunger strike at Kootah Morh on the Jammu-Kathua National Highway, were dismayed by the Supreme Court's decision. "On whom shall we have faith," was the first reaction of the accused's wife and daughters when they heard the court's order.
Advocate Ankur Sharma, who is defending the eight accused arrested by the Crime Branch, said, "We will file a fresh writ petition in the Supreme Court for a CBI probe in a few days. The CBI demand has not been rejected by Supreme Court. Only the case has been fast-tracked (to be heard on a day-to-day basis) and transferred to Pathankot."
Decision gives wrong impression about J&K: State BJP
The Jammu and Kashmir BJP expressed disappointment over the Supreme Court's decision and noted that it was a setback to the state government as well as the civil society. The Indian Express report quoted state BJP chief spokesperson Sunil Sethi as saying that shifting the trial to Pathankot "gives a wrong impression about Jammu and Kashmir".
"It is not only a setback to the state government, which had assured all security for a free and fair trial in the state itself, but also the civil society here, as shifting the case to Pathankot means there was no confidence even in them," Sethi was quoted as saying.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: May 08, 2018 09:04 AM