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HC deadline for Kamduni trial

Kamduni villagers in a march in Calcutta protesting violence against women

Calcutta High Court on Thursday directed the additional sessions judge of Barasat court to complete the trial in the Kamduni rape-murder case within two months of the framing of charges.

The bench of Chief Justice A.K. Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi, which passed the order, cited a recent amendment to Section 309 of the Criminal Procedure Code that sets a deadline of two months from the framing of charges to finish the trial in a rape case.

The amendment was made following the nation-wide uproar over the rape and murder of a college girl in Delhi in December last year.

The high court division bench also directed the state to provide adequate security to the family members of the college girl who was raped and murdered in Kamduni while she was on her way home after taking an exam on June 7. “If the family members of the girl need protection, the state will have to provide adequate security to them.”

The court also directed the state to provide the family lawyers of their choice and security to the witnesses of the case during the trial. The bench ended its ruling by asking the trial court — the third fast-track court in Barasat — to ensure “fair justice” in the case.

The charges against the Kamduni accused are yet to be framed. The next hearing at the trial court is scheduled for August 22.

Thursday’s order followed a public interest litigation filed by Anindya Sundar Das, a high court lawyer who had sought an order for a probe by a special investigation team. The bench, however, declined to order a probe by any such team.

Justice Ashim Kumar Roy of the high court has completed the hearing of two other petitions related to the Kamduni incident but is yet to deliver his judgment.

The investigating officer in the case, Anandamoy Chatterjee of the CID, had moved a writ petition before the single-judge bench of Justice Roy, seeking an order shifting the trial from Barasat court to some other district court.

The eight accused in the case, too, have moved a petition in Justice Roy’s court, seeking transfer of the case from Barasat.

Justice Roy has concluded the hearing of both petitions.

When the division bench was informed about the case pending in Justice Roy’s court, it said: “As for the shifting of the trial venue, the single-judge bench will pass an order according to the merit of the petitions.”

Lawyers said the single-judge bench might not allow a shift in the trial venue as the division bench has ordered a speedy trial. “A shift in the venue at this stage will only delay the case,” a high court lawyer said.