On the seventh day of the pre-trial of Kathua gang rape and murder case on Thursday, seven accused men were charged with gang rape, murder, kidnap, criminal conspiracy and other provisions of the Ranbir Penal Code (RBC) of Jammu and Kashmir Constitution by Pathankot District and Sessions Court. The formal trial will commence from Friday.
District and Sessions Judge Tejwinder Singh, after completion of the arguments by prosecution and defence sides, is learnt to have framed charges under Sections 120B (Criminal conspiracy), 328 (Causing hurt by means of poison etc with intent to commit an offence), 363 (Kidnapping), 343 (Wrongful confinement…), 376D (Gang rape), 302 (Murder), 301 (Culpable homicide) and 201 (Causing disappearance of evidence of offence) of the Ranbir Penal Code against the seven accused. All these charges will be read with 120B (Criminal conspiracy).
The trial court is learnt to have framed charges against the seven accused under two heads – one under the criminal conspiracy part and another for the actual crime. Among them, three accused – special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surinder Kumar and alleged conspirator Sanji Ram’s son Vishal Jangotra – will also face the charge of rape. Accused Parvesh Kumar will face the charge of attempt to rape. Ram himself has been charged under Section 376D/120B (Conspiracy for gang rape) among others.
Two investigating officers – head constable Tilak Raj and sub-inspector Anand Dutta – who are accused of destroying crucial evidence, besides the charges framed under criminal conspiracy, have also been separately charged with Section 161 (Public Servant taking gratification…) of the RPC. The eight accused, a juvenile in conflict with law, will face a separate trial. The sessions court is learnt to have issued summons to 17 witnesses for examination during the first day of formal trial on Friday after framing of charges against the seven accused men. Around 221 witnesses will be examined during the trial.
Supreme Court on May 7 had directed the sessions court to conduct a speedy, day-to-day trial, while transferring the case from Kathua court to Pathankot Judicial Complex. The in-camera trial had commenced on May 31 after the Special Investigation Team of J&K on May 30 had filed a chargesheet before the sessions court. While the defence counsels had concluded their arguments on Wednesday, the prosecution had done so on Saturday.
There are 38 advocates, including five main counsels who are representing the seven accused men in the case. The J&K government has appointed two Special Public Prosecutors – senior criminal lawyer Santokh Singh Basra and Pathankot District Attorney Jagdishwar Kumar Chopra from Punjab – to prove its case.
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