Kathua verdict influenced by media trial, ‘Muslim’ Mehbooba Mufti: defence lawyer

Kathua verdict influenced by media trial, ‘Muslim’ Mehbooba Mufti: defence lawyer

SRINAGAR: Ankur Sharma, one of the lawyers who was defending those accused of rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua district, on Tuesday said that the judgment delivered by the Pathankot session court judge was “bad and prejudiced”.

“Now we will challenge it in a higher court in the next 20 days. We are evaluating the judgment as of now,” Sharma told Kashmir Reader, adding, “It is not the criminal justice system but media trial that influenced the case. I am baffled to understand how one (accused) was acquitted while others were convicted.”

According to Sharma’s theory, the “Muslim chief minister” Mehbooba Mufti influenced the case since the beginning. He said she was able to use her influence because she was heading the home department, under which the police’s crime branch was investigating the case. “So the police had to listen to her. The charge sheet and the challan which were produced in court bore her impression,” Sharma said.

Asked whether the judge could not evaluate the evidence objectively, Sharma said that he was questioning the judgment, not the judge. “Institutions are supreme, and have nothing to do with the person,” he said. He asked this correspondent to Google the word “prejudice” when quizzed about how a judgment given by a judge is separate from the individual.
The sessions court judge in Pathankot district of Punjab had sentenced three accused, including the custodian of a temple, to life imprisonment and three more to five years in jail. One of the accused, the temple custodian’s son, was acquitted of all charges.

According to the charge sheet filed by police in court, the three main perpetrators of the horrific crime were Sanji Ram, described by police as the “mastermind”, who was custodian of the ‘devasthanam’ (temple) where the crime took place in January last year; Deepak Khajuria, a Special Police Officer (SPO); and Parvesh Kumar, a civilian.

The trio was spared the death penalty, a punishment sought by the prosecution during the yearlong in-camera trial at the court of Judge Tejwinder Singh in Pathankot. The police’s charge sheet also listed the motive behind the crime: driving out the Muslim nomadic Bakerwal community from the Hindu-dominated Kathua.