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  Kathua rape-and-murder case: Pathankot court refers harassment complaint against SIT to DGP

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Pathankot, Jul 09  The Pathankot District and Sessions court, which is hearing the Kathua rape and murder case, today referred a complaint of harassment by one of the accused to Jammu and Kashmir’s Director General of Police, a lawyer said.

The court moved the complaint by Parvesh Kumar, alias Mannu, to the DGP after the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Crime Branch denied the allegations of torture levelled against them, saying the plea was an “afterthought” and a “sheer act of frustration”.

After receiving affidavits from SIT members, giving a point-by-point reply to Mannu’s allegations, Judge Tejwinder Singh said the complaint was forwarded to the DGP, who was at liberty to get it investigated from any officer of his choice as the offence is alleged to have been committed outside the premises and jurisdiction of the Pathankot court.

With these observations, the judge dismissed the plea of the complainant, a lawyer said.

“The application has been referred to the DGP and he will inquire into it,” special public prosecutor J K Chopra said.

Mannu, who claimed to be a minor, had alleged that he had been subjected to torture on June 22 and 23 and forced into signing a statement before a magistrate.

The accused was taken for a medical examination and a bone ossification test after he filed an application here that he was a juvenile.

The medical examination report, submitted in the court, showed his age to be over 20 years.

The SIT members said in their affidavits that the application from the accused was “an afterthought and a sheer act of frustration on the part of the applicant having been declared as an adult by the board of doctors”.

The allegations levelled by the accused were “ill-motivated and aimed at lowering the image of members of SIT” who have conducted the probe in a fair and transparent manner, the affidavits said.

Refuting the allegation that he was brought to the Crime Branch office after the medical test, the affidavits said “at no point of time on these two dates (June 22 and 23), the accused had been wrongfully confined, induced or tortured…”

The SIT members also denied the allegation that the accused was put on a video call with Additional Superintendent of Police Naveed Peerzada during which he was threatened. At no point was Mannu made to talk to Peerzada, they said.

The affidavits also denied seeking any help from the jail superintendent of Kathua prison in bringing the accused before any member of the SIT.

Mannu is one of eight, including a minor, accused of raping and killing an eight-year-old girl in Kathua district this January.

Only lawyers for accused, prosecutors to be present during trial

New Delhi, July 09:  Only the lawyers representing the accused in the brutal Kathua rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl will be allowed inside the district and session court at Pathankot, the Supreme Court said today.

The direction came after the counsel of Jammu and Kashmir informed a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that as many as seven lawyers each were accompanying the accused inside the court room.

Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade and standing counsel Shoeb Alam, who submitted  a status report to the court in a sealed cover, also alleged that the presence of so many lawyers on behalf of the accused was detrimental to fair trial as witnesses who were appearing before the judge for recording their statements were feeling threatened.

They said, at a given time, there were nearly 50 lawyers present in the court room to defend the accused in the case.

“We request the court to allow recording of statement and cross-examination of accused through video-conferencing. Otherwise the motive of in-camera trial gets defeated,” Naphade said.

The apex court directed the district and sessions judge to observe “full court” in-camera trial during the hearing, in which only one lawyer representing the accused, special public prosecutor and public prosecutors and the court staff will be present in the court room.

The bench, however, said there was no need for recording the statements and cross-examination of the accused through video conferencing.

There are eight accused in the case, including one Sanji Ram, who is alleged to be the main culprit who had ordered kidnapping and murder of the girl belonging to the nomadic community.

The others are his son Vishal, his juvenile nephew, two special police officers including Deepak Khajuria alias ‘Deepu’, Parvesh Kumar alias ‘Mannu’ and two police officers who had allegedly destroyed the evidence in the case.

Accused in Kathua case be transferred to Gurdaspur jail in Punjab

New Delhi, Jul 09: The Supreme Court today ordered transfer of the accused in the Kathua gang rape and murder case from Kathua prison in Jammu and Kashmir to Gurdaspur district jail in Punjab.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra directed the Jammu and Kashmir Police to file a supplementary charge-sheet in the case within eight weeks.

The apex court granted liberty to the litigants of the case to move Punjab and Haryana High Court in case they felt aggrieved by the trial court orders.

The bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, directed the Punjab and J&K governments to provide security to the trial judge and the Special Public Prosecutor of the case respectively.

“The Jammu and Kashmir government shall ensure that family of the accused is allowed to meet the accused at Gurdaspur jail at its expenses,” the top court said.

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