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    Framing of Charges Argument Scheduled for Today

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    On Monday, a sessions court in Pathankot will hear arguments on whether to charge Shubam Sangra, the prime accused in the rape and murder case of a minor nomad girl in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir in 2018. The trial was moved from Kathua to Pathankot following a Supreme Court direction. Sangra was declared not a juvenile at the time of the offense and should be tried as an adult. The crime branch of Jammu and Kashmir police filed a charge sheet against him before the Kathua court, accusing him of kidnapping, wrongful confinement, offenses under IPC sections 302 (murder) and 376 (rape). During the last hearing, the judge said that the case would be adjourned to June 26, 2023 for consideration on the point of framing of charges.

    The minor girl was kidnapped on January 10, 2018, raped in captivity and later bludgeoned to death. Eight people, including Sangra, were named as accused. The case against seven of them was transferred out of Jammu and Kashmir to Pathankot on the order of the Supreme Court on May 7, 2018. Three accused were sentenced to life imprisonment; three others were convicted of destruction of evidence and handed down five years in jail. The seventh accused was acquitted. Sangra has been shifted from Kathua jail to a sub-district prison at Pathankot.

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    The Crime Branch charge sheet detailed Sangra’s alleged involvement in the crime. It claimed that Sangra was responsible for an overdose of sedatives forcibly administered to the eight-year-old, rendering her “incapacitated” to resist the sexual assault on her as well as her murder. A shoddily drafted application for a birth certificate had led to the unravelling of an alleged conspiracy to proclaim Sangra as a juvenile. The inconsistencies in dates and false information in the application for a birth registration certificate filed by Sangra’s father were crucial in nailing the lie.

    With Sangra being tried in the case, the quest for justice for the child takes a decisive turn. According to the Supreme Court order of 2018, the sessions court of Pathankot will be hearing the case and the appellate court would be Punjab and Haryana High Court.

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