Almost a year after the trial of Kathua murder and gangrape case began in Pathankot following its transfer to Punjab on orders of the Supreme Court, the final arguments are likely to conclude in the next few hearings. The case was adjourned for Tuesday for further arguments and submission of case law, with the verdict likely to be pronounced by June 10.
The evidence was already closed by the Sessions Court on May 27.
The chargesheet was filed in the court last year on May 30, subsequently, it went for trial on a day-to-day basis. While the prosecution has already concluded its arguments, the arguments from the defence side continued on Monday.
“The final proceedings may conclude on Tuesday or June 06. The judgement is expected to be pronounced on June 10,” said Special Public Prosecutor Jagdishwar Kumar Chopra.
There are eight accused in the case: former revenue official Sanji Ram, Special Police Officers Deepak Khajuria and Surinder Kumar, Parvesh Kumar, Ram’s son Vishal Jangotra and a juvenile who faces a separate trial. Two investigating officers – head constable Tilak Raj and sub-inspector Anand Dutta, are accused of destroying crucial evidence in the case.
While three accused are facing charges of rape in addition to other charges, one has been booked for attempt to rape and another for conspiring in the plot. The J&K Government had roped in senior criminal lawyers from Gurdaspur to prosecute the accused.
While the prosecution had presented a list of 353 witnesses in the case along with the challan and a supplementary chargesheet, official sources told The Indian Express that only 114 witnesses were examined during the trial. “There were many witnesses who were for the same evidence or were suspected to be weak witnesses by the prosecution, and accordingly a decision was taken to not examine them,” said a senior official.
A total of four non-official witnesses out of the 114 prosecution witnesses are said to have turned hostile during the trial. The defence also presented around 14 witnesses before the court to disprove the prosecution case. The in-camera trial is being presided over by the District and Sessions Judge Dr Tejwinder Singh.
The rape and murder of the minor in January 2018 had led to a major outrage across the country, with some groups in Jammu even coming out in support of the accused.