The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Friday issued a notice to the state government seeking its reply to a petition filed by a policeman, one of the accused in the Kathua case, PTI reported. Constable Tilak Raj moved the High Court on Thursday, challenging his dismissal from service.

The notice has been issued to Chief Secretary and Director General of Police SP Vaid. The High Court sought a reply to the petition within two weeks.

Eight people, including a minor, are accused of murdering an eight-year-old girl after allegedly raping her over several days in Kathua district in January. In the chargesheet, the police said that the accused had kidnapped, drugged, gangraped and then killed the girl.

Raj was removed from service after his alleged involvement in the case came to light. His lawyer AK Sawhney said he had sought permission from the Pathankot district and sessions court, where the Kathua case is being heard, to file a writ petition in the Jammu and High Court.

He claimed that Raj’s dismissal was “an arbitrary order” issued by Direction General of Police SP Vaid. “No notice was issued to accused, no inquiry was conducted and the accused was dismissed from services,” Sawhney told Greater Kashmir. “The dismissal of accused from services is against the principles of natural justice.” Sawhney sought an immediate stay and revocation of the dismissal order.

Raj and sub-inspector Anand Dutta and two other special police officers were dismissed for their alleged involvement in the case on April 17. They have been accused of destroying crucial evidence to save the other accused in exchange for money, PTI reported. Sawhney said Dutta had filed a Right to Information query to get a copy of his dismissal order. Once it is received, the case would also be taken up accordingly, the lawyer added.

Earlier this week, Sawhney was appointed the additional advocate general in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. Political parties have criticised the government’s move, describing it as abhorrent and worrisome.