Indian Supreme Court orders transfer of Asifa Bano gang rape and murder case to Pathankot
Thursday, May 10, 2018
On Monday, the Indian Supreme Court transferred the trial of the gang rape and murder of Kashmiri girl Asifa Bano to Punjab's district. The Supreme Court asserted it was to ensure a fair and just result for the victim and the accused. "We are here for the fundamental concept of fair trial for both victims and the accused", the court said.
Asifa Bano was an eight-year-old Muslim nomadic girl of the tribe who was reported missing on January 10. According to the police investigation, she was kidnapped, sedated, held captive, and gang raped before she was strangled and killed. Her corpse was found in a week after her disappearance. All eight accused for Bano's rape and death are Hindus, of which two are police officials.
Bano's father approached the Supreme Court requesting the case be shifted to a different court, suggesting Jammu and Kashmir. Bano's family and their lawyer, Deepika Singh Rajawat, had received death threats and personal threats. The Supreme Court, headed by , , ordered continuing security for the victim's family as well as the lawyer. They also ordered continuing security for the juvenile accused for Bano's rape and death.. Some of the accused asked the case be heard in
Stating fair trial is a "principle under Article 21" of the , which corresponds to the fundamental right to life, the Supreme Court said, "We are transferring the case to Pathankot from Kathua for trial [...] the case will be heard daily so that the verdict can be reached in a country where such cases can run for years or decades". Pathankot is a district in Punjab, and it is about 30 (about 20 ) from Kathua. The Supreme Court also ordered the hearing sessions cannot be adjourned and in-camera to ensure the safety of witnesses. There are about 221 witnesses for this case. Statements in are to be translated in English. The Supreme Court instructed Pathankot's district judge not to transfer the case to any other court.
Three of the accused, Sanjhi Ram, Vishal Jangotra, and Parvesh Kumar asked for a probe by the. Dismissing the plea, the Supreme Court said, "When charge sheet is filed, why should we want another agency?"
Per the charge sheet filed by Jammu and Kashmir police on April 9, Asifa Bano was raped at a place of worship.
Last month, after protests against the rape and murder of Asifa Bano in various cities across the nation, Indianministers passed an ordinance allowing the death sentence for those convicted of raping a girl under the age of twelve. However, per Article 20 (1) of the Indian Constitution, the ordinance is not applicable in this case. Article 20 (1) states, "No person shall be convicted of any offence except for violation of a law in force at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offence, nor be subjected to a penalty greater than that which might have been inflicted under the law in force at the time of the commission of the offence."
The trial is to be conducted in accordance with the(RPC). Due to special provisions for Jammu and Kashmir mentioned in Article 370 of the constitution, the Ranbir Penal Code is applicable for Jammu and Kashmir; since the case falls in the of that state. The RPC, which is different from the (IPC), has been in effect since before Indian independence from , when of the was the king of the then-independent state. Deepika Singh Rajawat, the lawyer who took Asifa Bano's case said, "There is not much difference between IPC and RPC, especially for rape and murder. Even though the order of sections are different, that would not affect the hearing of the Kathua case."
The next hearing is scheduled for July 9.
- "कठुआ केस में लागू होने वाला रणबीर पीनल कोड क्या है" — , May 10, 2018 ()
- "The Constitution of India" — , May 10, 2018 (date of access)
- Press Trust of India. "Kathua rape and murder: Accused to file fresh petition in SC, seeking CBI probe" — , May 8, 2018
- Krishnadas Rajgopal. "Kathua minor rape and murder: SC transfers case to Pathankot" — , May 8, 2018
- "Supreme Court moves trial in Kathua rape and murder case to Pathankot" — , May 7, 2018
- "SC transfers Kathua rape-murder case to Pathankot" — , May 7, 2018
- "Kathua rape and murder case: Supreme Court refuses CBI probe, transfers trial to Pathankot" — , May 7, 2018