New Delhi: The Supreme Court today directed the Jammu and Kashmir government to file its response on a plea alleging custodial torture of the Kathua case witness by August 27. A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud fixed the matter for further hearing in August 29.
The top court was hearing a plea by Talib Hussain, a key witness in the Kathua gang rape-and-murder case, alleging custodial torture by the state police in an alleged rape case lodged against him by his sister-in-law. The court had earlier asked the lawyer, appearing for Hussain’s cousin Mumtaz Ahmed Khan, to satisfy it on how a writ of habeas corpus (produce the body) was maintainable in the present case where the accused was in lawful police custody following an FIR being registered against him.
The counsel had referred to a Supreme Court judgement and said irrespective of the nature of detention, whether legal or illegal, such a petition could always be filed in cases of custodial torture. The petition was opposed by the lawyer, appearing for Hussain’s sister-in-law who has filed the FIR alleging rape, that there were as many as 10 FIRs against the accused and no relief should be granted without hearing the victim. The plea seeks protection of Hussain in police custody and alleges that he had been brutally beaten up in the alleged fake rape case.
Hussain is a key witness in the Kathua case, in which an eight-year-old girl from a minority nomadic community was abducted in January and gang-raped before being killed. The state police’s Crime Branch, which probed the case, filed the main charge sheet against seven people and a separate charge sheet against a juvenile. 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.