New Delhi, May 8: The Supreme Court on Monday transferred the trial of accused in the case relating to the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir, to Pathankot in Punjab.

The court directed holding a speedy, in-camera trial on a day-to-day basis without any adjournments to afford protection to witnesses. It also rejected handing over the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), as sought by the accused and supported by members of the Bar Council of India and Jammu and Kashmir bar association.

The Jammu and Kashmir government was also granted liberty to appoint a special public prosecutor and asked to extend adequate protection to the victim’s family and witnesses. Before finalizing on Pathankot, a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra considered and ruled out other options, including Udhampur, Ramban and Sambha.

The victim’s father had moved the Supreme Court on 16 April to move the trial out of J&K seeking a fair trial that ensures witness protection, citing the charged and hostile environment in the state.

The victim’s father had sought a transfer to Chandigarh and adequate protection to the family of the victim and the lawyers involved in the case. Two ministers belonging to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have resigned from the J&K cabinet after joining rallies in support of the accused.

The eight-year-old girl from the nomadic Bakerwal Muslim community had disappeared from near her home in a village near Kathua in the Jammu region on 10 January. Her body was found in the same area a week later.

The state police say she was raped by six men, who held her in captivity in a village temple for a week. The girl was drugged and raped repeatedly before being bludgeoned to death, the charge sheet says. The incident sparked outrage and protests across the country.

A special investigation team (SIT) formed to probe the incident has arrested eight suspects, including two special police officers and a head constable who have been charged with destroying evidence.

On 16 April, on the first day of the trial in Kathua before the district and sessions judge Sanjay Gupta, the accused pleaded not guilty and offered to undergo narco-tests to prove their innocence.

Source Live Mint

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