Differing trajectories of the Kathua and Unnao investigations
Last year, India exploded in outrage over two rape cases in different parts of India, both involving victims who were minors at the time the alleged crime took place. The first was in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao and the second was in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua.
But while the Kathua case culminated in a conviction in 18 months, trial is yet to start in the Unnao case. HT takes a look at the two sensitive cases:
Filing of the FIR
In the Kathua case, an eight-year-old Nomadic Muslim girl was raped and murdered on January 10, 2018. The FIR was registered two days later.
But in Unnao, where a 17-year-old girl was allegedly raped by BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, it took police more than 10 months to name the legislator in the FIR. The woman’s lawyer confirmed this.
Inspector general (law and order) Praveen Kumar said the UP police had filed four FIRs in the case.
.Transferring of the case
Within five days of the rape in Kathua, the case was handed over to the state crime branch. Trial was moved out of the region after local lawyers took out processions and blocked the probe team.
In the Unnao case, the investigations were handed over from state police to the CBI after about 10 months.
Filing of the charge sheet
In the Kathua case, investigators stuck to the 90 day deadline of filing charge sheet, ensuring that trial began on time. In the Unnao case, trial is yet to begin.
The CBI filed a charge sheet within 90 days of the case being transferred to the agency but it was already more than a year after the crime. On April 15, special CBI court judge Vatsal Srivastava was transferred to Gorakhpur and the case is yet to have a judge for hearing.
“We managed to produce our witnesses without any adjournment. The court monitoring helped us a lot. We took all the precautions to safeguard all the witnesses,” said Ahfadul Mujtaba, then IG ( crime branch) of Jammu and Kashmir who oversaw the investigation into the Kathua case.
On May 7 last year, the SC transferred the Kathua trial to Pathankot. However, the Unnao trial was shifted to Delhi after more than two years and the death of the victim’s aunts in a road accident.
The Unnao survivor’s lawyer said the accused in the Kathua case accused were commoners, not strong men like in UP.
“The accused has already lost her father. There is no male member in her family to support her. The case was transferred by the Allahabad High Court to Lucknow but by the time date of hearing came the accused got woman’s chacha lodged in jail. Now, that the SC has intervened, we are hopeful that the probe will be speedy and the verdict will follow soon,” he said.