Kathua rape-and-murder case: Trial against juvenile from Monday as HC denies early hearing on his minor status
Srinagar, Jul 28: The trial against a juvenile accused in the horrific rape-and-murder case of an eight-year-old nomadic girl at Kathua last year will begin on Monday as the Jammu and Kashmir High Court refused to entertain a plea for an early hearing of a petition challenging his status as a minor, officials said.
The trial will begin before the Juvenile Justice Board at Kathua in the Jammu region.
The Juvenile Justice Board had initiated the trial on July 15, but the Crime Branch said it was not ready to proceed as the status of the accused as a minor was yet to be decided.
The Crime Branch said that the police had approached the High Court challenging an order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate last year in which the accused had been declared as a juvenile.
Hearing the petition, Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur said, “No case for preponement is made out. Let the matter be considered on its due date.”
The matter is listed for August 05.
The Crime Branch had approached the High Court praying for an early hearing as the Juvenile Justice Board had started proceedings after “framing memorandum of allegation” (framing of charges) on July 08 against the “delinquent juvenile”.
The Board had directed the Crime Branch prosecution to present its evidence in the case.
“If further proceedings in the matter before Juvenile Justice Board are not stayed at this stage, the revision petition will render infructuous defeating the very basic question of determination of juvenility of the delinquent accused,” the Crime Branch petition said.
On July 15, the special public prosecutor had informed the Board that the High Court was yet to pass its verdict on the Crime Branch’s plea against the decision of a Kathua court which accepted the claim of the accused that he is a minor.
The Crime Branch also annexed a report of the medical board of the Government Medical College, Jammu, which said the accused was “not less than 19 and not more than 21” years of age.
The Board, however, after hearing the special public prosecutor, had given two weeks’ time to present the evidence as there was no stay by the High Court on holding of trial.
The main trial in the case was shifted to the Pathankot Sessions Court on the directions of the Supreme Court last year.
The Pathankot Sessions Court had on June 10 this year sentenced Sanji Ram, dismissed special police officer (SPO) Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar to life imprisonment. It also handed five-year sentences to three police officers.
On July 10, the father of the girl moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court, seeking enhanced punishment for the convicts. The petition sought the death penalty for Sanji Ram, Khajuria and Kumar.
The father has also challenged the acquittal of one accused in the case.