Kathua Rape Case: Jammu Court Orders FIR Against 6-Member SIT
The applicants argued that they were ‘forced, tortured, coerced’ by the members of the SIT to create false evidence.
In the Kathua rape-murder case where an eight-year-old Gujjar Bakarwal girl was raped and murdered, a Jammu court has ordered an FIR to be registered against the six-member SIT which was investigating the case.
In the order dated 22 October and from the court of the judicial magistrate, a copy of which has been accessed by The Quint, the judge has allowed for a case to be filed against six policemen who have been identified as RK Jalla (Former SSP Crime Branch, Jammu), Peerzada Naveed (Additional Superintendent of Police Crime Branch, Jammu), Shwetambari Sharma (Deputy SP Crime Branch, Jammu), Nassir Hussain (Deputy SP Crime Branch Jammu) Urfan Wani (sub-inspector crime branch Jammu) and Kewal Kishore (crime branch).
The court order reads, “From the gist of the complaint, cognisable offences are made out against the members of the SIT.”
The eight-year-old Gujjar Bakarwal girl from the Muslim nomadic tribe was repeatedly raped, sedated and eventually burgeoned to death between 10 and 17 January 2018. Of the seven accused, Vishal Jangotra was acquitted of all charges by a Pathankot trial court on 10 June earlier this year.
The court used its powers under Section 156 (3) of the CRPC to seek an FIR and report compliance by the next date of hearing scheduled on 7 November.
Section 156 (3) states: “The magistrate can direct the FIR to be registered and also can direct a proper investigation to be made, in a case where, according to the aggrieved person, no proper investigation was made.”
HOW DID THE 8-YEAR-OLD’S FAMILY REACT?
Speaking to The Quint, the eight-year-old’s father, Mohammad said he was shocked this could happen. “The police officials had repeatedly told us they had evidence to show that Vishal had come to Kathua and raped my daughter. We were already grappling with the fact that he was acquitted of all charges and had decided to appeal the verdict. Now they’re using this to slap a case against the police officials. This is wrong.”
Confirming that the acquittal of Vishal was appealed, Mubeeq Farooqui said, “The appeal was filed after the verdict of 10 June and the first hearing of the case was on 5 July in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.” He added that the police officials must go ahead and ask for a quashing of the FIR. “The court should have ordered an investigation but to go ahead and order the registration of an FIR is harsh. This will remain a black mark on their service and duty which will always remain. I think they will approach higher courts to quash the FIR. After an investigation if it is still believed that an FIR should be filed that would be understood.”
IN DETAIL: WHAT HAS BEEN MENTIONED IN THE COURT ORDER?
The order mentions that the applicants in the case had filed a complaint before the SHO of Pacca Danga police station in Jammu on 24 September 2019 seeking registration of FIR under section 194 of the IPC (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence) and other relevant provisions of the law against the members of the SIT.
The applicants argued that the grounds of registration of FIR were how Sachin Sharma and Neeraj Sharma from Kathua district and Sahil Sharma from adjacent Samba district were ‘forced/tortured/coerced’ by all the members of the SIT to ‘depose and create false evidence against accused Vishal Jangotra’.
The order goes on to read how Vishal was acquitted of all charges levied on him.
WHO IS VISHAL JANGOTRA?
Vishal Jangotra is the son of chief conspirator Sanji Ram. He was shown as one of the main accused in the case. The charge sheet had alleged that the juvenile accused in the case, his brother, had called Jangotra to Kathua, Jammu, to rape the eight-year-old. However, CCTV evidence produced in court had proved that he was not in Jammu during the crime. He was acquitted of all charges due to CCTV footage that placed him elsewhere at the time of the crime.
The order mentions how the applicants believe that this “further concretises that the applicants were deliberately tortured and compelled to depose false statements”.
The order also states how the SSP of Jammu was contacted via registered post on 5 October but no steps were taken.
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