"Fair trial is sacrosanct principle under Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution", the Supreme Court observed in the order transferring the case to Pathankot, which is 25 km away from Kathua across the border with Punjab.
Kathua Rape case victims lawyer Deepika Rajawat gives the thumbs up after the case was transferred to the Pathankot court today. However, the court ruled out the possibility of transferring the investigation in the case from the Jammu & Kashmir police to the CBI.
The top court also allowed Jammu and Kashmir government to appoint public prosecutor in Pathankot Court and also asked it to provide security to the victim's family, their lawyer and witnesses. It has also passed a slew of directions for the manner in which the case should proceed - including fast-tracking of the case, in-camera trial and daily hearing. Now the trial will be on the court, which will decide the outcome.
The SC also ordered translation of statements as well as records of the case from the Urdu language to English.
The father of the victim had yesterday said that he had a full faith in the judiciary.
The case had sparked an worldwide outrage particularly after the lawyers in Kathua had stopped the Crime Branch officials from submitting the charge-sheet in the local court.
"The basic concern is fair trial, basic concern is speedy trial".
Senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, appearing for Jammu and Kashmir, said the police has already filed a detailed charge sheet and further probe was being carried out and the question was about having an atmosphere to hold a fair trial in Kathua. We are convinced that there is absolutely no need for a CBI inquiry.
But the top court refused to examine the plea for handing over the investigation to the CBI. Her body was found in the same area a week later.
They had filed the main charge sheet against seven persons and a separate charge sheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district last week. The charge sheet has revealed chilling details about how the girl was allegedly kidnapped, drugged and raped inside a place of worship before being killed.