The Jammu and Kashmir administration has filed an appeal in Punjab and Haryana High Court, seeking death penalty for the three main convicts in the gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, contending that the case was “rarest of rare” and deserves capital punishment.
In two other appeals, the state sought conviction of the accused acquitted, Vishal Jangotra, and setting aside of the acquittal of three police officials from the charge of conspiracy.
The appeals are expected to come up for hearing on August 7 along with other appeals filed by convicts and complainant.
“It is not a case of any spur of the moment provocation or even a case where the accused gets overcome by lust. This is a case where a calculated and meticulously planned conspiracy was hatched, the victim was identified and targeted, and what disturbs the moral fibre of the society is that the same was done due to the enmity between the two communities, of which an innocent girl of 8 years paid the ultimate price,” reads an appeal filed through Jammu Crime Branch.
The appeal seeks death penalty for the three main convicts — Sanji Ram, Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar — who were sentenced to life imprisonment by a Pathankot court on June 10.
Former Sub Inspector Anand Dutta, SPO Surinder Kumar and Head Constable Tilak Raj were sentenced to five years in jail for destruction of evidence.
A Special Investigation team (SIT) had concluded that the victim was murdered and raped in January 2018 as part of a conspiracy to “dislodge” her community from the village. The trial was conducted by the District and Sessions Judge, Pathankot, on Supreme Court’s orders.
In the appeal, the State critiqued the trial court’s order: “…it can be safely stated that the learned trial judge has been highly perfunctory in the discharge of judicial function in the matter of sentencing.”
Submitting that the trial court “erred gravely” while accepting the plea of alibi of the accused named Jangotra, who was acquitted on the basis of alibi that claimed he was in UP to take an examination when the crime occurred, the appeal stated that the trial court ignored the confessional statement of convict Parvesh Kumar. The trial court also ignored the testimony of three witnesses regarding Jangotra’s presence at the crime scene January 13, 2018, the state submitted.
Stating that the trial court has misread evidence of the handwriting expert regarding the attendance sheet of the exam Jangotra purportedly took, the state said that the trial court has relied on an interested witness, Jangotra’s sister, to show that he had used a debit card at an ATM during the relevant period at Meeranpur — the card could have been used by anyone, the state pointed out in its appeal.
In its appeal against acquittal of former policemen Dutta, Kumar and Raj, who were convicted only under the charge of destruction of evidence, and not for conspiracy, the State said, “The trial court on one hand has come to the conclusion that the accused were in connivance with the other main accused but has erroneously and without application of mind acquitted the accused of other charges framed against them, which stands proved beyond any shadow of doubt.”
Stating that while the trial court held the three policemen played a part in misdirecting the search party from visiting the area where the victim was confined, the state has said the court failed to draw the inference that this misdirection was not only to shield the culprits but was “in pursuance of the conspiracy hatched to execute the plan.”