Supreme Court asks J&K to protect victim's family, others

The house of Muhammad Yusuf Pujwala and his family whose eight-year-old daughter was killed recently. Firstpost  Sameer Yasir

The house of Muhammad Yusuf Pujwala and his family whose eight-year-old daughter was killed recently. Firstpost Sameer Yasir

The apex court also took note of a plea of the victim's father seeking transfer of the trial of the case from Kathua, preferably to Chandigarh and sought response of the state government.

Indira Jaising, senior counsel for the petitioner, submitted that a fair trial is an inseparable facet of Article 21 of the Constitution, and there is an apprehension in the mind of the petitioner, the biological father of the victim, that there would be no fair trial inasmuch as there has been protest by the members of the Bar and further there may be issues relating to witness protection. They have already identified the accused and done the DNA testing. "This is the kind of investigation that they want to derail", Jaising said. Their plea was that the trial court be shifted. "But, I will stand for justice and we would seek justice for the eight-year-old girl", she said.

The Jammu High Court Bar Association, along with other local Bar associations, had called for a Jammu bandh on 11 April, alleging the police was targeting the Dogra Hindu community by filing a chargesheet against a few members of the community. "Let us not go into other areas", the court said.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud has fixed the next date of hearing on April 27.

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The girl was abducted on January 10 in Jammu's Kathua and killed four days later. Reports suggest that the hearing in the matter are expected to run their natural course after the Supreme Court had sought explanations from the Bar Council of India, Jammu and Kashmir Bar Council, Jammu High Court Bar Association and Kathua District Bar Association over the lawyers causing obstruction in the case. After being missing for a week, her body was found on January 17. In her plea, Rajawat claimed she is facing threat to her life for pursuing the case.

A retired government official, his son, his juvenile nephew, the nephew's friend and four policemen have been arrested so far the horrific crimes.

In order to calm the growing criticism for the government, the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has not only forwarded the resignation of two BJP leaders the Governor but has also ordered the formation of a SIT and has appointed two Sikh special public prosecutors. Political slugfest over rape cases also continues.

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