Republic TV has accessed the over 400-page order copy in the Kathua rape and murder case verdict delivered by the Pathankot special court, on Monday, in which life imprisonment has been awarded to three convicts who were the masterminds in the case and 5-year jail terms for three policemen who were co-conspirators, even as one accused was acquitted.
Subsequent to the verdict, a number of activists including Puducherry Lt Gov Kiran Bedi made a pointed case for why the convicts should have been given an even more severe punishment while the National Commission for Women (NCW) Chairperson Rekha Sharma said she had expected a death penalty. In the order copy, the main reason behind awarding a life sentence and the 5-year term has been specified. Page 425 of the copy mentions that the perpetrators of the heinous crime weren't previously convicts and states "there is every possibility to rehabilitate and reform them."
"Accordingly, keeping in view all the relevant factors in mind, especially the fact that accused persons are not a previous convict and there is every possibility to rehabilitate and reform them, therefore the following sentences imposed upon the accused under Ranbir Penal Code (as applicable to State of Jammu Kashmir)," reads the verdict's page 425.
Here is a section of the verdict:
The verdict then goes on to list the sentences awarded to each convict.
The verdict also states that all the sentences will run concurrently while adding that the period of detention already undergone by the convicts during the pendency of investigation/trial shall be set off against the imprisonment awarded.
The earlier pages of the verdict state the facts of the case that 'under a criminal conspiracy, an innocent eight-year-old minor girl has been kidnapped, wrongfully confined, drugged, raped and ultimately murdered.' It also condemns the heinous nature of the crime stating that the perpetrators of this crime have acted in a manner as if 'law of jungle' is prevalent in the society.
Here is that section of the verdict:
According to the 15-page charge sheet filed by the Crime Branch, the eight-year-old girl, who was kidnapped on January 10 last year, was allegedly raped in captivity in a small village temple in Kathua district after having been kept sedated for four days before she was bludgeoned to death.
The in-camera trial of the case commenced in the first week of June last year at the district and sessions court in Pathankot in the neighbouring state of Punjab, about 100 km from Jammu and 30 km from Kathua after the Supreme Court ordered that the case be shifted out of Jammu and Kashmir.