Supreme Court stays Kathua rape trial till May 7

Kathua case: Lawyers did not obstruct police from filing chargesheet, Bar Council of India tells SC

Supreme Court stays trial of Kathua child gangrape and murder case till May 7

The BCI probe panel headed by former Allahabad High Court judge Tarun Agarwala also dismissed allegations of threats to the rape victim family's cousel Deepika Rajawat.

The bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice D Y Chandrachud stayed trial in the case till May 7 on the grounds that it was hearing a plea for its transfer from Kathua to Chandigarh.

Subsequently, the BCI formed a five-member committee to undertake a fact-finding mission. Through an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court in a separate matter, they claimed they never threatened her and that the bandh they had called was peacefully supported by the people of Jammu.

Other members of the BCI team that visited the scene of the alleged crime in the Rasana village and also met the district judge and chief judicial magistrate of Kathua, relatives of the victim, members of the civil society and members of the Jammu High Court Bar Association (JHCBA) and Kathua Bar Association (KBA) included S Prabhakaran, co-chairman of the BCI, Ramesh Chander G Shah, co-chairman of BCI, Naresh Dixit, Advocate, Patna High Court and Mrs.Razia Beg, member of the Uttrakhand State Bar Council.

The team members have also not considered the video of the event which must have been available with the police, the HCBA said. A 15-page charge sheet has been filed in this case. It cited a press release issued by the president of Kathua Bar Association, Kirti Bhushan Mahajan, on April 9 saying that "the agitation of the Bar proved successful and the Crime Branch was compelled to go back and the challan couldn't be presented in the court". Subsequently, a report was sought from Principal District and Sessions Judge Kathua, "who confirmed that obstruction was caused by advocates..."

Reports of lawyers from the Jammu Bar and Kathua Bar preventing Crime Branch officers from submitting the chargesheet in the case attracted nationwide condemnation and prompted the Supreme Court to take suo motu cognizance. The report continued: "Some lawyers assembled the official residence of CJM Kathua up to 7.45 pm along with media persons but thereafter they left the place..." Indira Jaising, Senior Counsel appearing for the victim's family, argued that similar matters have been transferred to Chandigarh in the past.

The Centre is a respondent in a related petition seeking transfer of investigation from the Jammu and Kashmir Police to the Central Bureau of Investigation, a plea opposed by the rape-cum-murder victim's father. This, after noting that Rajawat's appearance was recorded in every hearing before the Court.

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