AS one of the accused in the Kathua rape and murder tries to prove he is a juvenile, he is up against an application filed by his own father to a local tehsildar seeking registration of birth of his three children around 14 years ago.
Equipped with this application and also a report of a board of doctors of the Government Medical College, Jammu, the Crime Branch has now approached the state High Court requesting it to set aside a trial court decision to treat the accused as juvenile. The medical board has determined his age as “not less than 19 and not more than 23”.
While seeking birth certificates for his children, the accused’s father had submitted an application to the Hiranagar tehsildar on April 15, 2004, mentioning the date of birth of his eldest child as November 23, 1997, the middle child as February 21, 1998, and youngest as October 23, 2002. It is this youngest child who is the accused in the rape and murder of the eight-year-old girl in Kathua.
The Crime Branch has pointed out that there is a gap of only two months and 28 days between the ages of the first two children, as per the dates furnished by the father, indicating his lack of seriousness. Moreover, it says, the father did not put up birth record from either any municipal committee or primary health centre where the “juvenile” was born as evidence.
Further, while the father’s application does not mention the place of birth of the first two children, it says the youngest was born at a government hospital in Hiranagar. However, the Crime Branch has said, the Block Medical Officer went through the records of the hospital and found no delivery in the name of the accused’s mother at the hospital on October 23, 2002.
The medical board has determined the age of the accused as between 19 and 23 based on clinical tests and his appearance.
With the trial court holding the accused to be a minor, he is being tried for the rape and murder at a juvenile board in Kathua, though the other seven accused are being tried at a court in Pathankot following the directions of the Supreme Court.
In its petition to the high court, the Crime Branch has said, “A casual and cavalier approach in determining the age of the juvenile involved in such a case would not meet the ends of justice.” It added that the trial court has placed reliance on “shaky municipal birth record”.
Urging that the trial court decision be put aside, the Crime Branch has said not doing so would be a travesty of justice as investigations have established that the accused who claims to be a juvenile had played “a lead role” in the abduction, gangrape and murder of the victim.