Supreme Court stays Trial Court proceedings in Kathua rape case following High-Voltage hearing
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Supreme Court stays Trial Court proceedings in Kathua rape case following High-Voltage hearing

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today imposed a stay on trial court proceedings in the Kathua rape and murder case, following a hearing on the question of whether the case should be transferred from the court in the interest of ensuring fair trial.

A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra was hearing the case of Mohd. Akhtar v State of Jammu and Kashmir.

The proceedings in the court today saw rising decibels, allegations of intimidation, complaints of lack of decorum and even a quarrel between counsel. The proceedings began with a seemingly perturbed Indira Jaising declaring,

I just need a little space to make my submissions.”

Jaising continued to make her submissions calling for a transfer of case outside of Jammu and Kashmir, preferably Chandigarh. Jaising prayed for a stay on the trial till the Supreme Court finishes hearing the matter.

At this point, Jaising was interrupted by advocate Harwinder Choudhury, counsel for two of the accused, who in an attempt to be heard over Jaising, began her argument at a higher decibel level. She said,

Media has hyped the matter. We are also very pensive… A small child has been killed.”

With a consistently increasing volume, the respondent’s counsel continued to list her prayers.

We also want the right killers to be punished. We want a narco test! We want a proper investigation! We want an appropriate agency to investigate the matter!

To defend the Jammu & Kashmir police, Jaising was prompted to speak over the respondent’s counsel. What ensued was a near two-minute long quarrel, where both counsel refused to bow down.

Justice Chandrachud was constrained to intervene and direct both the lawyers to not speak out of line and wait for their turns.

However, just as Jaising resumed her submission on the “transfer of case“, she was interrupted again, leading her to declare,

There has to be a proper way the Court functions… Your lordships will have to ensure a proper way the court functions. there should be no interruption. I will not argue otherwise.”

In response, the respondent’s counsel told the court, “this is intimidation. We are being intimidated.”

At the Court’s intervention, Jaising continued her submission, albeit in a more composed  fashion.

During the course of Jaising’s submissions, dotted with interruptions from the other side, the family of the victim found a mention.

However, Jaising in a no holds barred approach launched an attack inside the Court, asserting that the parentage of the victim cannot be brought up and should not be questioned.

The Chief Justice was forced to intervene in the bickering between the counsel, chiding them for their conduct in the courtroom saying,

What is this? What kind of behaviour is this? Both of you are going on raising your voice.”

Chief Justice Misra told both the counsel to lower their voices and maintain the decorum of the Court.

In a purported attempt at taking a dig at Jaising, the counsel for respondent remarked that “fair trial should begin here“, while going on to make her submission in favour of transferring the case to the CBI.

The same investigating agency cannot investigate the same case again. I stand with her (Jaising) for a fair trial. Let CBI look into it.”

After a relatively calm end to the proceedings, the Court decided in favour of staying the proceedings in the trial court until the Supreme Court finishes hearing the matter. The matter will be heard next on May 7.

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