One of the accused in the Kathua rape and murder case had claimed to be a minor.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the proceedings before the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) against a ”minor” allegedly involved in the gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua in 2018.
A bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, Ajay Rastogi and V Ramasubramanian stayed the proceedings after Jammu and Kashmir administration claimed that the High Court had erroneously affirmed the order of a trial court, holding him as juvenile at the time of the offence in 2018.
“Having heard senior advocate PS Patwalia, appearing on behalf of the petitioners and after perusing the averments made in the application for stay, we direct that the further proceedings pending before the Juvenile Justice Board at Kathua, titled as…shall remain stayed,” the bench said, listing the matter for further hearing on March 16.
Senior advocate PS Patwalia, appearing for J&K adminstration, said the high court had on October 11, 2019, wrongly affirmed the trial court order of March 27, 2018, without appreciating that the date of birth recorded in the municipal and school records are contradictory to each other.
He said that despite the notice to the ”minor” accused issued by the top court on January 6 on the administration’s appeal, the JJB has continued its proceeding against the accused, treating him as a juvenile.
Mr Patwalia contended that the accused is one of the main conspirators of the entire incident and kidnapped, gang-raped and murdered the victim.
He said it is the admitted case of the accused that there was contradiction in his date of birth recorded in the municipal and school records and therefore, the opinion given by the medical board holds paramount importance.
Mr Patwalia said that medical board constituted by the high court by its order of February 21, 2018 had opined that the accused was between 19 to 23 years at the time of offence.
The JJB had last year framed charges against the ”minor” and continued with the proceedings of examination of prosecution witnesses.
On May 7, 2018, the top court transferred the trial of the case from Kathua in Jammu to Pathankot in Punjab and ordered for day-to-day trial after some lawyers stopped crime branch officials from filing a charge sheet in the case.
Last year, the special court sentenced three men to life imprisonment for the ghastly crime that shook the nation.