​Supreme Court Shifts Kathua Rape Trial To Pathankot

In a bid to halt attempts to polarise and politicise the Kathua rape-murder, the Supreme Court on Monday shifted the trial outside Jammu and Kashmir to Pathankot in Punjab, ordered day to day in-camera proceedings and said it would continue to monitor progress of the case.

Accusing Kathua bar association members of attempting to prevent police from filing the chargesheet, advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the eight-year-old victim’s father, appealed to the SC to protect fair trial in the case from being buried. She suggested that the trial be shifted outside the state to Chandigarh or any place where witnesses could be protected from being influenced or intimidated to turn hostile.

J&K fielded senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, advocate general Jahangir Iqbal Ganai and standing counsel M Shoeb Alam to oppose shifting the trial outside the state and during arguments the state suggested Udhampur, Jammu, Samba and Ramban as alternatives.

Jaising said except Ramban, no other place was acceptable to the victim’s family. But counsel for the accused — Harvinder Chowdhury, Geeta Luthra, Meenakshi Arora — and PIL petitioner Anuja Kapur protested loudly and said Ramban had a reverse communal polarisation and was plagued by insurgency.
The bench zeroed in on Pathankot keeping in view its proximity to Kathua. The bench issued a series of directions to the J&K government while maintaining the state’s role as the prosecutor in the case and ordered that the trial be conducted as per Ranbir Penal Code (RPC).

While ordering transfer of all case documents to the Pathankot district and sessions judge, who was asked to hold the trial himself and not assign the case to any additional district and sessions judge, the bench allowed J&K government to appoint the public prosecutor and provide translators to the Pathankot court for translating documents from Urdu to English.

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