Jammu: The fate of the purported “juvenile” accused in the rape and murder of the 8-year-old girl in Kathua district will be decided next week by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, with the Crime Branch moving a petition to contest that he is a minor, officials said on Thursday.
A decision on the petition, which will be heard early next week, will give clarity on whether his case will be heard along with the seven other accused before the Pathankot district and sessions judge, or continue to be tried by the Juvenile Board in Kathua.
“The police has conducted a thorough probe and also carried out medical tests on the accused. The reports suggest his age to be in the 19-23 age bracket,” said a senior official of the state law department.
He said all the evidence collected in the case was the same for all the accused.
“We cannot make a witness depose twice – once in Pathankot and the second time before the Juvenile Board. The clarity is important,” the official said.
On May 7, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra said in their nine-page order, “The juvenile, who is facing the trial, shall be dealt with in accordance with law and he should be given all special care and protection as per the command of the law.”
The juvenile had allegedly kidnapped the girl on January 10 on directions of his uncle Sanji Ram, who has been described in the charge-sheet as the mastermind of the gruesome crime.
The minor along with Vishal, son of Sanji Ram, and special police officer Deepak Khajuria, alias ‘Deepu’, had raped the little girl repeatedly for four days before killing her on January 14 and dumping her body in the jungle, the charge-sheet said.