Kathua case: Accused oppose plea for transfer of trial

Sanji Ram gestures from a police vehicle as he arrives for a court appearance in connection with the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, south of Jammu. REUTERS

Two accused of the Kathua rape case have approached the Supreme Court, opposing a plea made by the victim's father to transfer the trial in the gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl child on January 12, from a sessions court over there to Chandigarh.

In an application, accused Sanji Ram and Vishal Jangotra sought their impleadment in the petition filed by the victim's father.

They said that convenience of the complainant cannot be the sole criterion for transferring a criminal case out of state.

The convenience of the accused, prosecution witnesses and larger interest of the society has to be considered.

The charge sheet in the matter has already been filed and there is no apprehension or threat or coercion of witnesses, they said.

Maintaining that they were "falsely implicated in the matter", the petitioners contended that the investigating agency cannot be allowed to conduct the probe in a biased and tainted manner.

"Fair investigation and fair trial are sine quo non for preservation of the fundamanetal right of an accused under Article 21 of the Constitution," their plea said.

Meanwhile, the Jammu Bar Association also filed an affidavit, denying issuance of any threat to victim's counsel Deepika Rajawat.

The top court had earlier directed for providing police protection to the advocate.

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