The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Jammu and Kashmir government to file its response on a plea alleging custodial torture of Gujjar activist and lawyer Talib Hussain by August 27. A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud fixed the matter for further hearing on August 29.
The top court was hearing a plea by Talib Hussain, who had spearheaded the protest demanding punishment to the alleged rapists and murderers of 8-year-old nomad girl Aasifa in Rasana village of Kathua in January. Hussain was subsequently arrest in an alleged rape case by the state police after which he alleged that he was subjected to custodial torture.
Meanwhile, writ petition (Habus Corpus) was filed by the cousin of the Hussain, which alleged that Hussain has been kept in illegal detention and was being subjected to custodial torture. Hussain’s family also said that he was being tortured in police custody in a fake rape case.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, counsel for the petitioner, in a tweet stated that Talib Hussain “who was arrested has been tortured in Samba police station while on police remand, skull broken, rushed to hospital in Samba, he is a key witness in the Kathua gangrape-murder case. This is unacceptable in a democracy” and she also sought “judicial intervention” in the matter.
The council had referred to a Supreme Court judgement and said irrespective of the nature of the detention, whether legal or illegal, such a petition could always be filed in cases of custodial torture. The petition was opposed by the lawyer, appearing for Hussain’s relative who has 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.
However, the statement from the Police says that Talib allegedly attempted to end his life by hitting his head with the iron bars of lockup in the police station after which he suffered minor head injuries.
Hussain is a key witness in the Kathua gang rape case, in which an eight-year-old girl from a minority nomadic community disappeared from near her home in a village close to Kathua in the Jammu region on January 10. Her body was found in the same area a week later. The state police’s Crime Branch, which probed the case, filed the main charge sheet against seven persons and a separate charge sheet against the juvenile in a court in Kathua district. The charge sheet revealed chilling details about how the girl was allegedly kidnapped, drugged and raped inside a place of worship before being killed.