A juvenile justice board has framed charges against a minor in the case of gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old nomadic girl in Kathua and has fixed Monday for examining prosecution witnesses and commencing trial. According to an order served to the Crime Branch here, officials have been asked to bring in their prosecution evidence and witnesses for the trial to begin.
The order has left the prosecution baffled as the crime branch contested before the Jammu and Kashmir High Court last year that he is not a minor. The case has seen only adjournments till date. According to the notice, the charges were framed against the accused by the Juvenile Justice Board Kathua on July 8 and “the next date of hearing has been fixed on July 15”.
“The case has been fixed for prosecution evidence... Kindly arrange the presence of public prosecutor appointed in the case so as to examine the prosecution evidence/ witnesses,” it said. The juvenile is accused of raping and murdering the young girl. The crime branch had filed a petition in the high court against his claim of being juvenile.
The crime branch petition had stated that the chief judicial magistrate in Kathua erred in accepting the accused’s claim of being a juvenile. It had also annexed a report of the medical board of Government Medical College, Jammu, which said the accused was “not less than 19 and not more than 21”.
The trial in this case was shifted to the Pathankot Sessions Court on the directions of the Supreme Court last year.
The Pathankot Sessions Court had on June 10 this year sentenced Sanji Ram, dismissed special police officer Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar to life imprisonment while sacked policemen Anand Dutta, Tilak Raj and Surender Verma—were handed five years in jail.
The verdict came 17 months after the girl was brutally gang-raped inside a ‘devisathan’ (local temple) and later killed. She was kidnapped on January 10 and her body was found on January 17.