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The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the CBI and the Rajasthan government on a plea for transferring the trial of Bhanwari murder case out of the state and to the national capital.

A bench of justices T S Thakur and F M Ibrahim Kalifulla also sought replies of all the 17 accused, including sacked state minister Mahipal Maderna and Congress MLA Malkhan Singh Bishnoi, in the Bhanwari murder case on the plea by victim’s sister for transfer of the trial out of Rajasthan.

Senior counsel Colin Gonsalves and advocate Shreeji Bhavsar, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that the accused in the Bhanwari murder case are powerful and influential politicians, who would not allow free and fair trial in the state.

“The political patronage is so obvious that when the accused persons tried to avoid arrest by having himself admitted to a hospital it was the state chief minister himself who visited the hospital to meet the accused. Thus it is clear that no free and fair trial can proceed in the state of Rajasthan and therefore the request is being made for transfer of the case to Delhi or any other state,” petitioner Indira Solanki said in her plea.

Bhanwari Devi, a nurse who lived near Jodhpur, disappeared from near her home in September last year. Four months after she went missing, her remains were found by police divers in a canal around 100 kms away from Jodhpur.

The case has seen some high-profile arrests. The 36-year-old nurse had alleged affairs with political leaders including Congress leader and former state minister Mahipal Maderna. Bhanwari was reportedly blackmailing him with a sex CD.

Maderna, who was forced to resign after she went missing and her liaison with him became public knowledge, has been arrested. Another Congress leader and Luni MLA Malkhan Singh, who reportedly introduced Bhanwari to him, was also arrested.

Pleading for transfer of the trial, Solanki submitted that the accused persons are powerful political leaders of dominant communities and their followers had created a law and order situation in the state.

“Interest of justice will be served if the case is transferred to Delhi especially in view of the affidavit submitted by the CBI before the Rajasthan High Court wherein it was urged that there existed a real danger of the witnesses being won over during the pendency of the trial. Furthermore, there is also the danger of witnesses being intimidated and the undue harassment of the Victim’s families,” the petition alleged.

The investigation was done by the CBI which registered the preliminary charge sheet on December 2 last year.

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