The Kerala High Court on Friday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to take over the inquiry into the alleged rape and murder of two minor Dalit girls at Walayar in Palakkad district in 2017, ANI reported.

The two girls, aged 13 and nine, were found dead inside their home in Wayalar town, 52 days apart. The teenager was found on January 13, 2017, and her sister on March 4. Autopsy reports revealed that the sisters had been sexually assaulted.

The court considered a petition filed by their mother, asking that the state government correct its notification recommending CBI investigation only in the case involving the elder sister, The Times of India reported.

The government informed the court that it had issued a new notification for a CBI inquiry in both the cases.

The mother also sought a court-monitored investigation into the case, arguing that CBI’s inquiry in some cases stretched on for years.

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Walayar sisters’ rape-murder: Kerala HC orders retrial, notes flaws in inquiry, hearings

Justice VG Arun noted that the case must be handed over to the CBI as any delay would be damaging to the investigation, The Hindu reported. He also directed the Crime Branch to hand over documents related to the case to the superintendent of police, CBI, in Thiruvananthapuram.

The judge ordered the government to provide the necessary logistical support to the CBI. The government assured the court that it will adhere to the order, according to The Times of India.

In January, the Kerala High Court had ordered a retrial in the case because of certain flaws in the inquiry. A special court had acquitted all the accused in the case in 2019, citing lack of evidence.

The state government had called the special court’s verdict “absolutely perverse and wholly unsustainable” and moved the High Court against it. After that, the government announced that a judicial investigation would be conducted in the case

The accused, Valya Madhu and Kutti Madhu, are close relatives of mother of the girls, while another accused Shibu is a former employee of their parents. The fourth accused was Pradeep Kumar. He died by suicide after the Kerala government appealed against the acquittals.