The Punjab and Haryana High Court will begin hearing on Thursday appeals of six convicts against their conviction in the Kathua gangrape and murder case and also the appeal by the victim’s family, seeking enhancement in the sentences of the convicts. One of the convicts has also prayed for suspension of his sentence and that application too will be heard on Thursday.
The Jammu and Kashmir government on Wednesday issued an order, asking Chandigarh-based Senior Advocate Rajinder Singh Cheema to represent the state in the appeals. Gurdaspur-based criminal lawyer, Santokh Singh Basra, who was Special Public Prosecutor before the trial court, has been requested to assist Cheema.
On Wednesday, the division bench of Justices Rajiv Sharma and Harinder Singh Sidhu adjourned to Thursday the hearing on the appeal filed by the 8-year-old victim’s father, seeking death penalty to three main convicts and life sentence for three others. The victim’s family has also appealed against the acquittal of Vishal Jangotra, the lone accused to be freed in the case by the trial court last month. The Jammu & Kashmir government has not yet filed any appeal against the acquittal.
Three main convicts, Sanji Ram, Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar, were sentenced to life imprisonment by a Pathankot court on June 10. Three former policemen, Anand Dutta, Surinder Kumar and Tilak Raj, were sentenced to imprisonment for five years for destruction of evidence.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of J&K Police Crime Branch had concluded during its probe that the 8-year-old girl was murdered and raped in January 2018 as part of a conspiracy to “dislodge” a nomadic community from a village.