The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the Jammu and Kashmir government based on a plea by Talib Hussain, a key witness in the Kathua alleged rape and murder case, PTI reported. Hussain alleged he was tortured while in police custody. The court was hearing a habeas corpus writ petition, filed by a cousin of the witness, who alleged that Hussain was illegally detained and tortured in police custody.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra asked the state to submit its reply within a week and asked senior Supreme Court advocate Indira Jaising, who demanded judicial intervention in the matter, to submit a copy of her plea to the advocate general.

Hussain was arrested on August 2 on charges of sexual assault and illegal possession of weapons, reports said. The rape charge was filed following a domestic violence case registered by his estranged wife. She claimed that he had even attempted to kill her. The general secretary of the Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation, Javed Rahi, however, alleged that the charges against Hussain had been filed as he had led the campaign demanding justice in the Kathua case.

The Supreme Court allowed the woman who had accused Hussain of raping her to move the court in the matter. The top court scheduled the next hearing for August 21.

On Tuesday, Jaising said Hussain was sent back to Samba Police Station after being treated at a hospital in the city even though he had been allegedly tortured. She claimed Hussain’s relatives had seen him bandaged and bleeding at the police station, and they were not allowed to meet him.

Jammu Inspector General of Police SD Singh Jamwal had refuted the allegations. He told The Indian Express that Hussain “may be taking drugs and suffering from withdrawal symptoms’’. On August 7, the police booked Hussain for attempting suicide in police custody.

Hussain had spearheaded a campaign demanding justice for the family of the victim in the Kathua case.

The case

The girl was allegedly abducted on January 10 and killed on January 14. Her body was found near Kathua on January 17. 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. The police said in the chargesheet that the accused had kidnapped, drugged, gangraped and then killed the girl.

The case sparked nationwide protests after two Bharatiya Janata Party ministers in the Jammu and Kashmir government attended a rally organised in support of one of the accused.

In May, the Supreme Court transferred the trial to Punjab’s Pathankot.