Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. DY Chandrachud and the newly appointed Indu Malhotra, JJ, stayed the trial in the Kathua gangrape and murder case till 07.05.2018, after being seized with petitions seeking shifting of the trial to Chandigarh and handing over the investigation to the CBI. Posting the matter for further hearing on 07.05.2018, the Court said that it will deal with the prayer of the victim’s father for shifting the trial to Chandigarh and the plea of the accused seeking handing over the probe to CBI.

During the hearing, the Court witnessed heated exchanges between Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the victim’s family, and advocate Harvinder Chaudhary, representing the accused.

Indira Jaising said that the case be transferred to Chandigarh due to proximity to Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir and the incidents of obstruction of police personnel by lawyers of the local court. She said that attempts were made to intimidate the presiding judge of the court and the crime branch officials were heckled by the lawyers, as is evident in the affidavit of Jammu and Kashmir Government.

Harvinder Chaudhary, on the other hand, said that his clients do not have faith in police investigation and the probe should go to CBI. He alleged that the police was hand-in-glove with vested interests to falsely implicate the accused while the real culprits were someone else.

Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal Ganai, appearing for Jammu and Kashmir, opposed the prayer for a CBI probe and said the SIT of the crime branch was investigating the case. He said that the trial could be shifted from Kathua and Jammu to some other district in the state as there were 221 witnesses and most of the statements recorded so far were in Urdu. It was also argued that Jammu and Kashmir has its own penal law and if the trial is shifted to Chandigarh, then it may create several problems.

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh submitted before the Court that the Central Government was ready to provide any assistance if required but the call has to be taken by the Jammu and Kashmir government.

The Court had earlier given a stern warning and said it would transfer the Kathua gangrape and murder case from the local court in the “slightest possibility” of lack of fair trial, saying the “real concern” was to hold proper prosecution. It had also directed the State of Jammu & Kashmir to grant protection to the family members of the 8-year old girl, who had been brutally abducted, raped and murdered in Kathua district of J&K in the month of January 2018. The Court also directed that protection be granted to the Deepika Singh Rajawat, the lawyer representation the victim’s family, and one Talib Hussain, who has been rendering assistance to the victim’s family.

Source: PTI

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the matter where the appellant was found guilty of committing the murder of a minor girl, aged about seven years and also of kidnapping and subjecting her to sexual abuse on her and for destruction of evidence relating to the crime, the 3-Judge Bench of J. Chelameswar, Shiva Kirti Singh and Abhay Manohar Sapre, JJ held that the appellant should be inflicted with imprisonment for life with a further direction that he shall not be released from prison till he completes actual period of 25 years of imprisonment.

The Court referred to the decision of this Court in Swamy Shraddananda(2) v. State of Karnataka(2008) 13 SCC 767, where it was held that life imprisonment means the whole life span of the person convicted and therefore in the facts of a case while not confirming death penalty, this Court may, while exercising its power to impose the punishment of life imprisonment, specify the period up to which the sentence of life must remain intact so as to be proportionate to the nature of the crime committed. The Court was of the opinion that the innovative approach reflected in the aforesaid judgment, on the one hand helps the convict in getting rid of death penalty in appropriate cases, on the other it takes care of genuine concerns of the victim including the society by ensuring that life imprisonment shall actually mean imprisonment for whole of the natural life or to a lesser extent as indicated by the court in the light of facts of a particular case.

Considering the fact that the deceased, a helpless child fell victim to a crime of lust at the hands of the appellant who was 27-years old at the time of commission of offence, the Court said that there may be probabilities of such crime being repeated in case the appellant is allowed to come out of the prison on completing usual period of imprisonment for life which is taken to be 14 years for certain purposes and hence, ordered that the appellant should undergo life imprisonment for the whole of his natural life i.e. 25 years of imprisonment. [Tattu Lodhi v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 947, decided on 16.09.2016]