‘Minor’ Kathua Rapist Be Prosecuted As An Adult, Rules SC

SRINAGAR: The Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside a Jammu and Kashmir court order which had held that the one of the accused persons in the Kathua rape and murder case was a juvenile, reported Live Law.

A top court bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Justice JB Pardiwala has now said that accused Shubham Sangra should be tried as an adult.

The case pertains to the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl from the Bakerwal nomadic community who was kidnapped from Kathua’s Rasana area on January 10 in 2018 and found dead on January 17. According to the 15-page chargesheet in the case, she was kidnapped, drugged, hit by a stone, raped and strangulated inside the temple premises by the accused persons.

In 2019, a Jammu and Kashmir court had sentenced three men to life imprisonment and three police officers to five years in jail. Sangra’s trial was shifted to the Juvenile Justice Board. One persons was acquitted on benefit of doubt.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court allowed a plea filed by the Union Territory administration against a High Court order, which had upheld a chief judicial magistrate ruling that Sangra was a juvenile.

Justice Pardiwala said that medical expert’s estimate about the age of the accused person was only an opinion, and not a statutory substitute for proof.

“Medical opinion regarding age in absence of any other conclusive evidence should be considered to determine the age range of the accused,” he added, according to Bar and Bench. “Whether medical evidence can be relied upon or not depends on value of evidence.”

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