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Custodial torture of Kathua case witness: SC directs J-K government to file response by August 27

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Jammu and Kashmir government to file its response by August 27, on a plea alleging custodial torture of the witness in Kathua gangrape and murder case. The matter was posted for further hearing on August 29, by a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud.

The direction to the state government followed the hearing of a plea by the key witness in the Supreme Court.

The witness, Talib Hussain, had alleged custodial torture by the state police in the 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.Irrespective of the nature of detention, whether legal or illegal, such a petition could always be filed in cases of custodial torture, the counsel had said while referring to a judgement by the top court.

The petition was opposed by the lawyer, appearing for Hussain’s sister-in-law who had 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 Hussain’s protection in police custody and alleges he had been brutally thrashed 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 was gang-raped before being killed.

The main charge sheet was filed against seven people by the state police’s Crime Branch, which probed the case. A separate charge sheet in the case was filed against a juvenile.

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