Kathua (Jammu and Kashmir): The eight people accused in the gruesome Kathua rape and murder case pleaded not guilty on Monday and asked the district and sessions judge for a Narco test.
As the trial in the case began, the district and sessions judge asked the state Crime Branch to give copies of the chargesheet to the accused and fixed April 28 as the next date of hearing.
Of the eight people accused of the crime, one is a juvenile who is also under arrest. He moved a bail application before a judicial magistrate which will be heard later in the day.
The eight-year-old victim child from a minority nomadic community was allegedly held in captivity in a small village temple in Kathua district for a week in January this year during which she was kept sedated and sexually assaulted before being bludgeoned to death.
According to the chargesheets filed by the crime branch, the abduction, rape and killing of the girl was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area. The caretaker of the 'Devisthan', a small temple, is listed as the main conspirator behind the crime.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear at 2 pm two separate petitions, including the one filed by Kathua-based lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat, representing the family of the eight-year-old girl, alleging that she was facing threat to her life for pursuing the matter.
Another plea filed by Delhi-based lawyer Anuja Kapur, seeks transfer of the sensational gangrape case from Kathua trial court to a local court in the national capital.
Kapur has also sought transfer of probe to the CBI, besides seeking exemplary compensation to the family of the victim of the case.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud considered the submission advanced by senior advocate Indira Jaising, representing Rajawat and Kapur, for urgent hearing of the two petitions on Monday itself.
"We have already passed the order on Friday," the bench said.
Jaising responded by saying that the earlier notice was issued to the bar associations but the issue at present relates to the threat faced by local counsel Rajawat.
The bench then agreed to hear the petitions at 2 pm on Monday itself.
The top court had on April 13 taken strong note of some lawyers obstructing the judicial process in the Kathua gangrape and murder case and initiated a case on its own record, saying such impediment "affects the dispensation of justice and would amount to obstruction of access to justice".
The apex court had said that it is a settled law that a lawyer who appears for a victim or accused cannot be prevented by any bar association or group of lawyers, for it is his duty to appear in support of his client.
(With PTI inputs)