The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Jammu and Kashmir government to respond to a plea by Talib Hussain, a key witness in the Kathua murder case, by August 27, PTI reported. Hussain had alleged that he was tortured while in police custody.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had issued a notice to the state government on August 8 as well, and had asked for a reply within a week. The court will hear the matter next on August 29.

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. The court had earlier asked the cousin’s lawyer to show how the writ petition was maintainable when Hussain was in lawful police custody. The lawyer had cited an earlier Supreme Court judgement that whether a detention is legal or not, such a petition can be filed in cases of custodial torture.

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. 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.